AES: Pleasantville '17

While we're nearing the end of the calendar year, we're smack dab in the heart of the Arizona Endurance Series schedule. We've added a few new events too. I couldn't make the first running of the Cove Classic back in September, but I was eager to roll out the Lake Pleasant route, Pleasantville, to the masses. It's a route I scouted about two years ago. With the help of Joe, we had a start/finish area and a short connection over to the route. The other new event will be Ripsey, coming in March '18.

The group convened at the Outlet Mall in Anthem and it was nice to see 33 riders come out for the inaugural run. Jeff spewed the usual spiel of reminders and we were off...on time!!

A short bit on pavement led us to dirt where things really got going or...
...they don't. Nothing like having 33 riders pushing through sand for a half mile at the start!! Haha.

It's one way to slow down the fast guys, at least for a few minutes.
In Joe's defense, when they scouted this entrance a few months ago, it was rideable!! Since then I don't think we've had so much as a drop of rain. It's been incredibly dry here for over three months. Things didn't quite ease up yet as the Black Canyon Trail below Emery Henderson trailhead has a notoriously bad wash crossing choked with river rock.
Early on we were getting our monies worth of hike-a-bike.

The only real downfall to the early HAB was my sand filled shoes.
The route flattened out and the riders began to spread out. Over the first hour the pace was brisk and before I knew it I was entering the trails on the west side of Lake Pleasant.
The Maricopa Trail winds over to Waddell Dam.

I almost took a spill off this bridge as I wasn't paying attention while riding under a canopy of trees.
I caught up to Jeff & Nancy at one of the watering holes. We all topped off for the remainder of the route. They took off a few minutes before me as I tried to keep pace.

Lake Pleasant, sitting at 68% full and rising.

The floating bridge was damaged over a year ago. The result? A short bushwhack to get around a small cove.
This was the final time I was within close range of Jeff or Nancy. I saw them for most of the dirt road sections coming up, but never could close the gap.

Castle Hot Springs Rd provided some easy miles.

Circling around the north side of the lake, still under mostly cloudy skies.
I dropped down a rocky approach into the flat bottom of lake level. Igor came flying by me and was gone!! Not sure how I stayed ahead of him for over 34 miles...

This bay was under water when I scouted the route. What a difference 14% of lake level makes.

It felt like autumn if only for a brief moment.

Cow Creek Rd makes its way towards the mesa straight ahead.

While scenic, this area marked the more rugged side of the route.

A wee bit of hike-a-bike.

This northern basin make a great place for a snack break.

A few riders came & went while I watched the reeds sway in the breeze.

This is the Agua Fria River. Last time it was over knee deep, not today.

Hardly a drop of rain in the past three months. Dry. Dry. Dry.

Climbing away from Table Mesa Rd I was in a bit of a funk. Slow going, yearning for the top.

I crested the summit and found new life in my legs as the sun came out.

The stately Saguaro's dominate this stretch of trail. Magnificent.

I was surprised to catch up with Chris & Greg near the bottom of the Boy Scout Loop.

The three of us rode together for a few miles until I pushed ahead for good.
One last sand trap crossing and then the home stretch back to the outlet mall. There were still a bunch of riders hanging out, as it should be. It was a great day to be out on the trails. Great to see a bunch of familiar faces and meet some new friends. Thanks to everyone who came out to make this a huge success. See you back here next year!!




Brown's Ranch: All-Star Crew

I had one more day to ride over the Thanksgiving break. Rachel & Jefe were in town from Colorado visiting Rachel's family and we were able to sync our schedules for a Saturday spin up at Brown's Ranch.  Kaolin, from Flat Tire Bike Shop, would also be joining the fun. He's helped me tremendously with bike fittings, etc over the past couple of years, but we had never gone on a ride together.

When I tracked down the group at the trailhead, Kaolin introduced two more of his buddies, Dax & Shawn. I had heard of both of them before since they routinely place very high in any race/event they enter. This got me thinking...Jefe - fast. Rachel - fast. Kaolin - fast. Dax - fast. Shawn - fast. John - not so fast. Hmmm. This could be interesting if not short lived!!

Thankfully, no one was particularly interested in a hammerfest. Rachel made Kaolin promise. I figured I could keep up with their relaxed pace!! Off we go!!
Down the Brown's Ranch Superhighway.

Bluebird skies from Cathedral Rock.

Danger! Beware!! The daunting El Diablo...ok, not really, just a fun trail with some rocks to goof around on.

Spotted two more buddies out on the trails, Phil & Jamie - who knew Shawn. Both are from the Cortez, CO area.

Jefe & Rachel winding through the boulders.

Kaolin mashing the singlespeed.

Shawn flexing that chain!!

Dax & Kaolin should've swapped shoes.

Yeah!! HAB!! 

Such a fun section of Branding Iron trail.

Kaolin & Shawn leading the charge.

Dax hot on their heels.

Fairly typical of Brown's Ranch, packed parking lot & empty trails.

Crested Saguaro!!

What's in your backpack? Ziplock leftovers Thanksgiving feast? No? Jefe & Rachel think otherwise, taters & turkey anyone??

We ran into Bart, quite possibly the fastest dude on the block!! His trophy case runeth over. Stud.
I was very surprised to find out that Kaolin had never ridden any of the trails north of Branding Iron. The guy lives the closest!! So, it was cool to show him new terrain.

The pace was brisk most of the day, but very manageable for me with the breaks tossed in. I couldn't quite keep up with Kaolin, Shawn & Dax on the final trail, but that didn't matter. It was a great day cruising around Brown's with fun people.

Over the hill & back to the trailhead.

Quite the cast of characters: Shawn, Kaolin, Rachel, Jefe & Dax. Nope, no fun at all. None.
Lst's do it again sometime.



Gold Canyon: Ti Cojones

A call went out to our local East Valley Facebook group: Hawesaholics, from Curtis about doing a group ride in Gold Canyon. It had been a while since I last rode over there and Evan was still in town looking for more ride options.

We met up with the group for a nice tour of the fun stuff, including the newer Hoo Doo trail, now with another option for getting down the steep section.
Jacob on an off camber section of Hoo Doo.





Jacob on the new line, Cojones.

Evan dripping in.

The route carves over a few steep boulder slabs into a short drainage.

Mark on the lower rock roll.

Power move on the final boulder hurdle.

Steep runout to the end of the trail.

Jacob gives it a go.

Jacob takes on the tougher entrance to K-trail.

Evan glides over a double rock move on Phantom.

Chuck rolling through the Tech Loop.

Curtis doesn't worry about picking a good line, just bomb it.
Jacob had to cut out a little early while the rest of us did the Quartz Loop climb. It's the longest sustained climb in Gold Canyon. The ridgeline views are pretty spectacular too. We were about 2/3 through the descent when I heard a loud 'TING'!! Snapped Titanium seatpost. Drat.

I tried riding without a seat and that grew old real quick. I was able to pull the broken portion out of the frame easily and installed what was left of the post & seat. I figured a low seat was better than no seat. Sure was. Thankfully, we only had a couple of miles until the end so it wasn't a big deal.

It may be time for a dropper post.

No bueno.
In spite of the busted post, it was a fun day tooling around the local trails once again. Thanks to Curtis for organizing the group dynamic, let's do it again soon.