The event is billed as a primer for the Arizona Trail Race in April, but I'm skipping that one this year and missed CT last year. I didn't really feel like camping out for these rides so I hit up Scott & Eszter for some floor space among a stable of bikes.
Day 1: Redington - AZT - La MilagrosaI was really glad this ride was scheduled for a noon start. I had to work late the previous night & would be making the trek south in the morning. I made it to the start with only a few minutes to spare, Tucson doesn't quite have the freeway options of Phoenix, but that's not really a bad thing either.
There was a nice turnout, 16 riders or thereabout. We made our way across the flats then began the climb up Redington rd. Even with the 'relaxed' pace I was off the back fairly quick. Scott was nursing a head cold and stayed well behind chatting with Krista. Last year during the AZT300 I rode this section for the first time, a good portion of it at night. I really wanted to see how the jeep roads at the top would ride during the day with fresh legs on an un-loaded bike. The Redington climb wasn't as long as I remembered.
A few of us started out on the jeep roads and immediately I could tell how much easier this day would be. I hung out with Alexis & Denny for a bit, then stopped to finally start taking pictures.
|Plenty of water high in the hills, a few stock tanks were full.|
|It didn't take long to leave the land of the Saguaro.|
I was now riding solo, off the back, as I winded my way around to the AZT junction. I also forgot how good this section of trail was. Great singletrack for sure.
|Near Italian Trap.|
|Bike friendly cattle guards.|
|Good climbing grades almost the entire way.|
I crested out on the high point of the ride and found my camping spot from day 2 of the 300. I took a few minutes to pause & reflect back, recalling my almost shattered state of mind that night. This was a prime opportunity to crack open that Pepsi I had been lugging up the mountain. The sugar infused carbonation was just what I needed as I made my way down the trail and over to the La Milagrosa split.
A few years earlier, Seron and I had cut our Lemmon Drop ride a bit short due to being whooped & time constraints thereby missing a run down the famed Milagrosa (Millie) trail. I had heard the stories, seen some video clips of Tucson's more famous technical downhill run. Was I really up for it? Could I actually ride it?
|The Milagrosa turnoff, doesn't look like much here.|
|Serene beach at the start.|
|Down the ridge to a punchy climb.|
|Wheel grabbing rocks everywhere.|
|Almost to the bottom.|
The trail exits into a wash area, then out to pavement for a few miles back to the car. A few others had just finished and we all met up with the rest of the gang at 1702 for pizza and beer!
Afterwards we made our way back to Scott & Eszter's place where we listened to Bama & Tanesha entertain us with stories from the road. They happened to be passing through town with the Santa Cruz demo caravan on their way to Phoenix. It was a fun day/evening and we get to ride more trails in the morning!!
|Mountain bikers across the land know where to go.|
Day 2: Tucson Mountain Park Big LoopScott was still feeling under the weather so he opted for computer work while Eszter, Caroline, Mathieu and I readied ourselves for the TMP ride. This would be my first ride at Tucson Mountain Park. I've heard good things about the trails there and was excited to see it firsthand.
The Genser trailhead is only 5 miles or so from the house, so we followed Eszter's lead on a maze of urban connectors: roads, alleys, 2-track & singletrack were all utilized. It sure was a fun warmup. At the trailhead there was already a large group assembled, another 16 riders or so for this group-ish ride. Jeff & Nancy made the trek south too.
|Krista was chilling, taking GoPro vids of her downhills & not even looking at the trail while climbing!|
|Alexis powering up Cat Mtn.|
|Fantastic views of Mt. Lemmon to the east from Cat Mtn.|
|Rode up this side of the pass.|
|The trail continuing upward, but I was heading over the pass & down.|
|Miles & miles of fast desert singletrack. Yes please.|
|I only bothered to stop because I was exiting a loose wash area here.|
|The Sonoran Desert Museum is a great day trip all on it's own.|
|Saguaro Nat'l Park visitor center.|
|I thought this was a healthy looking rattler, until I realized it was dead, rattle missing too.|
|Flying down the backside of Golden Gate, Picacho Peak could be seen in the distance.|
|Fast descent on Picture Rocks rd.|
|First of two gasline climbs.|
|Well marked trails throughout.|
|The views were stellar to boot.|
|Final approach back to TMP.|
|Bowen Stone House.|
|Sometimes the desert gives back.|
|Downtown Tucson in the waning light.|
It was the perfect ending to my 2 days of Camp Tucson. I skipped out on day 3's Empire Rita ride and more notably breakfast at Bobo's (gotta save something for next visit).
Thanks Scott for putting on this event and thanks to you and Eszter for letting me crash on the floor.