September 9, 2017

Relearning Arizona

The Colorado Trail Race was now a thing of the past and I was ready to get back on my bike and actually pedal some desert miles...then I got rained Phoenix. WTF.

Another week went by and my perceived CO fitness had waned, I could tell even before hitting the trails. But that was ok, it was going to happen anyway. Brown's Ranch was calling.
Welcome home!!
It was so nice to be showered with sun rays, dry trail, no hike-a-bike and empty trails.

Blow up your TV, go ride.

It was still a bit toasty, but the end of summer was near. You could feel it. However, the local high country was still calling. I rounded up Jeff & Nancy for a spin up on the Cabin Loops. I've been meaning to check out the Ubar trail for quite some time, this would be a good opportunity.

I was about halfway to Payson when I realized I probably should have at least looked at the weather forecast. Pfft, this is AZ, it's always sunny & warm, right? Hmmm.

We met up for a few miles of overlapping Arizona Trail before we split off onto the Fred Haught trail. It felt so good to be back on the AZT for a bit. By the time we wrapped around and began our stint on Ubar the rumbling began. Ruh-roh. Sure enough a couple miles later the rain began to fall. Jeff & Nancy pulled out their rain jackets while I hung close to a tree trying in vain to stay dry. The temps dropped a solid 20 degrees in 5 minutes. Then the hail came. Lots of hail. Was I back on the Colorado Trail??
At least somebody was prepared!!
We hunkered down for at least 15 minutes while the ground became saturated. The rain/hail finally eased up a bit and we made a dash for it. Until the next round of hail.
Taking shelter & grabbing a snack in the hail. Photo by Jeff.
It seemed like only a few minutes after the deluge let up, Nancy sliced a sidewall. Ugh.
Jeff to the rescue.
We were near a forest road crossing and decided it would probably be best to shortcut back to the vehicles.
Winter wonderland of hail.

Recent fire damage.

FR300 back to the cars.

I arrived back home to a dustbowl.
After this ride, the running joke now is to always bring lights, hike-a-bike friendly shoes and raingear when riding with me!! I don't really have an argument against any claim.


The following weekend I was back in the high country once more, this time no rain in the forecast!! I had been meaning to get over to the White Mountains for a few years, but hadn't made it happen. The only times I had ridden there were during the Tour of the White Mountains races. I wanted to explore more trails in the Los Burros area.

The parking lot at the Los Burros CG was bustling. It was an official pre-ride weekend for the race and I expected to see a bunch of riders. This wasn't the case.
Beautiful singletrack in sections.
I need to explore more in the Sitgreaves NF.

Nice spot for a camp site.

Four Springs trail winding through the pines.

I heard some familiar voices while taking a snack break, it was Ben & Kimberly out for a tandem spin!!
The Land of the Pioneers trail was fun, but I was beginning to push my time limit and needed to get back. I opted to bypass Four Springs on the way back in favor of fast forest roads. Unfortunately, about halfway back my intended route did not exist!! I had to backtrack a few miles and ended up on Four Springs for about three miles anyway. I was now about an hour later than I hoped, oops. Shocker, I know.

Los Burros CG.
There's a Facebook group called Crank Yankers and they often post group rides. I saw they were going to be riding over on the west side of town and decided to join in. Fun group, give them a try if you're local.
Crank Yanker's group ride in the west valley at F.I.N.S. & Pirates.

Checking out a new trail at Pirates.

The next day there was a Burrito Brother sighting at Hawes.  Seron, Jeff, Nancy & Scott all came out for a spin on Gidro Pass. *Bring your hike-a-bike shoes!!
Hey, the gang's all here!!

The views from Gidro Pass are stunning. Would make for a good bikepacking stopover.

Seron showing good HAB form.

Gidro Pass reward: miles of downhill.

The new Horse Tale trail is getting ridden into shape.

It was great to get reacquainted with the desert and AZ in general in spite of the rain & hail up north!! It was still a little warm near home for the all-day type of outing. I found myself looking to head north while I still could.

Scott posted a pic of his bike up at the summit of Mt. Elbert in CO. It's the highest point in the state and open to bikes!! It got me thinking...then more pics began to surface of golden leaves emerging in the high country. Was there time for one last hurrah to Colorado??

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