3.03.2013

Ripsey!! Believe it or not.

The Ripsey ridgeline was calling to me, it had been almost a year since I last put tires to it. I put out a call to round up some riders to make it a group ride, they came out in droves! 17 total made it to the trailhead for the 30 mile loop that Seron and I scouted a couple years ago. Three of them bikepacked down from Picketpost the day before, how cool. Unfortunately, Mark discovered a crack in his frame on his loaded fatbike and had to bail. We gathered up the troops at the newly constructed Kelvin trailhead and began our loop on the Florence-Kelvin Hwy (F-K).

Getting ready to hit the road.
It starts with a short climb followed by a white-knuckle screaming descent. Enjoy it while it lasts, because next up is a 4 1/2 mile steady incline. Find a comfortable gear, put your head down and pedal. Jeff and I rode most of the climb together, joking as we watched Ray & Nancy do their thing and crush the uphill. At the top we re-grouped as everyone was happy to see the top of the climb.
The Bevinator cresting the climb.
'Big Ring' Roy is stoked!
 A couple more road miles followed before we picked up the jeep road under the powerlines. The same turn-off Tim and I took on our bikepacking trip a couple weeks earlier. This time we would take that faint 2-track!! I had to call the group back to the turnoff since the people up front blew right by it, I told you it was faint. We made our way down the road, Ray asked me if we really rode this before? Sure did, if you look closely you could probably still see our tracks from two years ago!!

The track quickly turns into a cattle trail with tight squeezes between sharp pointy branches. I think everyone in the group donated some blood to the trail gods. A short HAB through some sand and we dumped out onto another dirt road. This one much more friendly than the powerline road, plus we were able to pass by some old ranching areas before stopping for lunch down at Ripsey Ranch.
A giant Cottonwood tree provided all the shade our group would need.
Windmill at Ripsey Ranch with water waaaay down below.
Pass through this doorway and discover singletrack bliss.
Even a grassy knoll to spread out on.
The group was anxiously eager to get on some primo AZT singletrack, so much so that they again took off in the wrong direction!! Back this way!! Through the tree arch and around the holding pen we go. A short climb on 2-track and we spy our first AZT carsonite!! We would be turning left here, but if you go right for a 1/4 mile the sinewy Boulders singletrack awaits you. We pushed onto the powerline once more for about 2 miles until we hit the cairn marking the turnoff onto singletrack. We gathered one by one and waited to see how far ahead Steve would get before he realized no one was with him? 1/2 mile. We zipped through a few miles of swooping trail, I forgot how fun this section was!
The group huddles near a gate, getting set for a photo op & a super fun downhill into Ripsey Wash.
One by one they rode by, so here they are:
Ray, Grrrr!! Why are we stopping so much!! He was restlessly pacing at the lunch stop.
Jeff.
Steve, no wrong turns here.
Tim, one of the 3 bikepackers.
Nancy.
Jeff.
Brian.
Bob, another bikepacker.
Dean.
Joe.
Chuck.
Steve.
Roy.
Bev.
Noel.
Conga line downhill!
Soon we were near the bottom of the descent, criss-crossing the wash a dozen times, on and off the bike for a few of them. A short switchback attack section of trail finally dumped us into a large swath of sand, time for HAB up to the gate. Well, it's all uphill from here. Time to get your climb on, up to the famed Ripsey Ridgeline. A couple of grunt sections level out for a bit before you're officially on the 'Big Hill'. Down below we watched Ray already high above us take a break on a stout climb. At least the poppies were out to help keep us distracted!
Noel & Tim assume the position.
Joe going for a switchback.
Chuck diggin' in.
Atop the ridge the group slowly began to re-assemble, cheering, hootin' & hollerin' as each rider crested the top of the Big Hill. It's such a good time watching everyone push their limits, get to the top and give a high-five. We had made it to the ridge, the payoff for all that climbing. Now it was time for spectacular views and 6 miles of downhill (with a few hiccups of course). Sadly, this ridgeline appears to be doomed by a mining company and will more than likely the trail will be re-routed. As our friend on the fatbike, Mark, said 'until then, we're going to ride the shit out of it'. On this day, we did just that.
Ray on the ridgeline.
Bob taking off.
Sometimes it can be tough to keep your eyes on the trail!
Bev finally made it to Ripsey!
Switchback attack!
Roy, seconds before the only mechanical of the day - flat tire.
'Best ridgeline in AZ' - Chad B.
Time for me to go!
This was my third time up on Ripsey, it doesn't disappoint. I'll keep coming back as long as there is trail to ride. No matter how tired you are at the top, by the time your tires roll into the trailhead you're grinning ear-to-ear. Such a fantastic ride out in the remote rugged AZ desert. Not many people venture out here, but on this day 32 tires made a showing. Thanks for coming out, it's a long drive for some. I've said it before, how do you make a great ride better? Do it with great people!!

As we all sipped our favorite post-ride drink of choice, people began departing. Some heading home, some off to grab some Mexican food in Superior, but I still had a mission. Time for another ride. On my way home, I'd stop by Florence for another quick scouting ride.

2 comments:

  1. I love this trail! And have taken friends on this loop before...only now learned this trail is doomed? How long before it's gone? Any specifics? What a shame...it's one of the best rides around, although a bit out of the way...

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  2. Greg, not sure on the timetable, but yes it appears some of the AZT in the area will be getting a re-route due to a mining tailings pond. So, ride it while you can!!

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