May 17, 2015

Back in the Saddle

I'm still a bit surprised how sane I stayed during my ride hiatus. I had plenty to keep me busy, from the AZT race, a couple of long hikes that I wasn't really in shape for, being a cheerleader for K as she participated in her 2nd Pat's Run and some much needed trail work on a local nemesis. I found the two months actually went by fairly quick.
Spring was in the air.
11th annual Pat's Run in Tempe.
Spent some time cleaning up a section of the Jacob Crosscut trail.
My trusted steed sat idle, in pieces for 2 months.
Our yard gave a us a surprise showing.
Nearly two months after wrist surgery I was given the green light to begin riding again. I knew I had to keep things tempered a bit as my wrist still bothers me as I break through the scar tissue to regain full mobility. I also knew I had all but lost any endurance conditioning I had. My mind wanted to bust out and go on a 60 mile ride, thankfully I knew better.

I decided to go on a bit of an exploratory ride from home. I've been trying to find a direct dirt route from my home over to Gold Canyon to complete a big single day loop when the weather cools off in a few months. I was also lucking out considerably as our May temps in the desert have been unseasonably cool and wet.
I love our town on the outskirts of the big city.
I took off from home heading almost due east along Germann rd. Soon, I was on a stretch I had never been on and was surprised to find a steel mill out there!
Nice view of the San Tan mountains.
Steel mill at the end of Germann rd.
I reached a dead end and a few private property signs. However, to my left was State Trust Land and I have a recreation permit for legal passage. I detoured to the north looking for a way to cross the heavily overgrown wash. A mile up the dirt road I had my break. I was now staring at a long barbed wire fence running north-south, I needed a way into the vast open desert. Again, my luck proved good as there was an obvious opening in the fence. I continued my trek east, at first on some very faint 4x4 tracks, then it became apparent I was simply riding in the desert.
Not much out here.
 I crossed a few washes, some muddy after the recent rains, but still made eastward progress. Things were looking good. I could see Ironwood rd approaching as cars zoomed along this southeast valley artery. Of course before I could get to Ironwood I'd have to find another opening along a barbed wire fence. This time my luck wasn't as fortunate. No openings whatsoever. I followed along the fence for a good 2 miles, nothing. The fence was too high to safely climb over too.

I could see a series of dirt roads along the southern border, but of course these were marked as private property! A few hundreds yards up the fenceline I came to a padlocked gate under some powerlines. I knew I could easily scale the gate, but it led me into the private land. I was more than ready to exit my barbed wire playpen, so I backtracked to make sure I could easily get out of the private property (I'm guessing it was owned by the power company as it was a vacant parcel of land near the powerlines).
Not sure I fully understand this sign as this is looking into the State Trust Land. Only a few hundreds yards away is another sign indicating you need a permit to access the land. Then why lock all the entry points?
I hopped the fence and rode out to Ironwood still hopeful I could continue my progress eastward. One mile north on Ironwood was an OHV access point. This was going to lead me to what I thought was my real challenge of the route: crossing the CAP canal. Turns out the access point has been closed and that too is padlocked!! Drat.
Too many barriers today.
At this point I gave up for the day and turned into a roadie, cruising all the way home on pavement. First ride back: 21.6 miles and a whopping 200' of elevation.

What I didn't find in successful routing I made up for in saddle time. It was so good to be back out exploring via bike. My wrist didn't feel too bad, just some in-ride stretching was needed.

I was itching to get back onto singletrack and as luck would have it, a new trail in Gold Canyon had just been unveiled: Jodi's Dream. The weather continued to hold off so I cruised over there after work one afternoon. I rode into the trail system from the Apache Junction side to see how the re-routed W.Lost Goldmine trail felt. So-so. While it's now completely rideable, it still doesn't flow very well. There are quite a few unnecessarily sharp turns that suck away any building momentum. The trail is still rocky, but at least in a good way. While it's not a great trail, it at least provides a suitable connector from Apache Junction to Gold Canyon, just don't expect to go fast!
A freshly completed re-route of the West Lost Goldmine trail.
I met up with Michelle on my way over to Jodi's Dream, which is essentially an extension of K-trail. It cuts out a 50' section of jeep road in favor of two miles of twisting, contouring, climbing and descending trail. A perfect addition to an already stellar network of trails.

My Gold Canyon spin wet my appetite for more, so I took advantage of another unseasonably cool May day by taking a day off work to head back out to GC for a group ride. A vacation day well spent, riding fun trails, hanging out with friends I hadn't seen in quite some time and meeting a few new faces too.
De exiting a Saguaro lined section of trail.
The group on top of Snowbird trail.
I rounded out my first week back in the saddle with another exploratory ride through the newly constructed trails at the north end of Brown's Ranch with a familiar duo, Seron & Arturo. It was good to share the trails again with these two fools. We ventured off of the mapped grid where signs warn you like you're delving into uncharted territory. Some of the 'new' trails are simply old adopted trails from the now defunct Pima/Dynamite system - mostly moto type trails. Some are good, some not so good, but all were fun to some degree.
Crossing into the nether regions.
Low hanging Saguaro blooms.
Our northernmost point of the ride.
A very fast, fun newly built trail: Hawknest.
We started our way back towards the parking lot connecting a series of new trails or ones we hadn't been on yet. One trail, Barb's trail, was particularly notable because I rode ride into a buckhorn cholla sending me over the bars turning in mid-air!! As a spontaneous reaction I put my right hand out to brace my fall, big mistake as that's my healing wrist!! For a few moments I thought I broke it again, but I'm sure it was only the intense pain of ripping through the scar tissue. At least my grips & barends took the brunt of the cactus as I spent the next 15 minutes prying the needles out of each. The desert can be a very harsh, unforgiving place if you get bit.
Took a nice chunk out of the cactus!! Photo by Seron.
It still ended up being a great ride, wrist was fine. It felt so refreshing to get back out on the trails. I have to admit I was getting a bit jealous of all the rides my friends had been doing, I needed to get back out there where I belong. My next goal is to increase my mileage and time in the saddle as my wrist allows. Big rides are coming, I can feel it.

1 comment:

  1. Nice photo of you Arturo on Hawknest! I was reading John's blog and hey, wait a minute... I know that guy :) Thanks for the blog John.