12.02.2016

Oracle IditaRidge

This is why Shannon is so cool, she sends me texts like this: 'Wanna ride Oracle Ridge?' I mean, who does that? Clearly someone a 'little off' in the head and that's why we enjoy riding together!! She did propose a shuttle, but 'shuttling is for astronauts' and that would entail a ton of driving up & around Mt. Lemmon. So, after looking at past ride times, I convinced her we should do it as a loop from American Flag Ranch in Oracle. Duh, more riding!!

We also had grand plans to add in the new AZT re-route in Oracle State Park, but at the last moment came to our senses realizing we had a big effort and slow going trail in front of us. Plus, we'd probable encounter snow/ice up top after a storm dropped a few inches earlier in the week.

Joe has shown a considerable amount of interest in tagging along on one of these crazy ride ideas. #locorides So we extended the invitation, but only told him to prepare for a full day out, wear comfortable shoes and cover your arms! Pretty sure he cracked the code before we began pedaling, but it was fun keeping the route a bit of a surprise!!

I rolled out of my house under the cover of darkness and we all met up at American Flag TH. It was a balmy 28ยบ!! Let's start pedaling uphill!!
The first 12 miles are undulating over well graded dirt roads.
Steel Cow, Ti bike.
We just have to ride up there.

Up we go! Photo by Shannon.


The next 12 miles are all uphill, but the grade is fairly relaxed most of the way. Somewhere past the halfway point I began to feel the effects of the larger gear ratios of the new bike. Then, as we slowly transformed into the trees, snowpack began covering the roadway. It rode fine, but a few sections were slippery and some walking/sliding was had.
Shorts & snow, a winning combo!!
The packed snow surface actually rode really well.


We originally weren't going to stop in Summerhaven for lunch, but as we climbed higher talk began to center around food. True story.We agreed to keep the lunch stop short and just get a plate of french fries to share.
Drat. No fries for us!
The community center across the street has heated restrooms & cold water!!
Bourbon & burritos FTW!!


We opted to take our lunch break in the vacated women's restroom at the community center. Shannon wore out the hand dryer trying to warm up. It was a nice break in our cozy confines, but it was time to tackle the beast that is Oracle Ridge.

This was Joe's first time on the Ridge and we told him how much fun the first couple of miles are. Well, they are more fun when you can actually ride them. A bit too much snow on this day kept us walking a good portion of the upper miles. We dubbed it the IditaRidge route.
This section is typically ridden when dry.
Joe, all smiles and a good sport all day long. He's ready for a AZT300 run.
This was a lush green fern tunnel a few months ago. Photo by Shannon.

Slowly losing elevation and snow.
There was some snow riding.
3-4" deep in spots, but we did have Zach & Rob's tracks to follow from their ride the day before.
Hey, look!! A break in the vegetation. Photo by Shannon.

The trail corridor could use some trimming.
I swear I rode some of the time today!! Photo by Shannon.
Joe found some rideable trail. Photo by Shannon.

One thing Oracle Ridge has: Stunning views.
Rincon mountains to the south.


We were making slow, but steady progress along the ridge. Where else does the downhill take longer than the up hill...and 9 miles shorter!! Oracle Ridge, that's where. Who cares, we were having a blast out there enjoying the rare snowy conditions and always impressive panoramas.
So this one time, three mountain bikers rode Oracle Ridge in the snow...for fun...Photo by Shannon.
I remembered to bring my trusty pedal wrench and took off the left pedal for the Traverse-O-Death. Save a shin!! No need for that nonsense when pushing up an overgrown trail 'corridor' for 2 miles or whatever.

Shannon and I reminisced about our time up here in April during the AZTR. Such a different feel without all the bikepacking gear and whooped legs.
The snow actually helped to 'smooth' out this section of rugged jeep road.
Still a long way to go down. Photo by Shannon.
Back on singletrack, the snow is gone and the riding is good!! Photo by Shannon.

Cloud cover beginning to take over as the daylight wanes.
Shannon's body language says it all: Do we 'have' to go up there? Joe, showing us how it's done!!
We were treated to this sliver of sunset as we turned onto the Cody trail.
At the Cody trail turnoff. Photo by Shannon.

Kentucky Camp themed riding...with water bars. Joe was counting them from the start of the singletrack, but only the wooden man-made ones.
I've never been over to the High Jinks Ranch, someday I'll check it out.
I think this is mandatory on any #locoride!!


Daylight was fading fast, but we were only a mile or two from American Flag TH. Of course there's one last small hill to get over right before the end. Right about the time shapes were becoming hard to distinguish I rolled under the AZT sign signaling the end!! Perfect timing.

Joe's waterbar tally had peaked at.....93!! Yes, 93 wooden waterbars along the Cody trail. No wonder riders are worked over by the time they reach Oracle. I'd venture to guess there's another 80 or so of the natural variety as well. That's a ton of pounding on your wrists, but most of them are really fun to rip over.

In the end, it was a really fun day sharing an iconic bit of AZT with these two. Joe's getting set to tackle the AZT300 for the first time in April and I have no doubt he'll get it done and post a good time. He's ready. Shannon, just keep sending silly ride ideas my way - I'm IN.

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