February 10, 2018

BCT: Bumble Bee - Orme Loop

I've had this massive northern loop on the Black Canyon Trail, BCT, planned for three years or so. In fact, it has been loaded on my Garmin for over a year!! For whatever reason, I had yet to pull it off. Now was the time. I had my mitts on a sweet demo bike, Binary Bicycles Chuparosa. A 27.5+ All-mountain titanium hardtail. I was curious to see how it felt after 10 hours of trail riding.

The forecast looked really good, overcast & cool. Perfect. Then my alarm went off at 4am. Snooze. Then the second alarm sounded. Snooze. 5am came and went. By 5:30 I really needed to get moving if I wanted to complete this ride in daylight as the starting point was a 1 1/2 hour drive away.
I usually roll through the Bumble Bee trailhead on my way south. Today it was the start/finish area.
The plan? Ride dirt roads north from the Bumble Bee trailhead to the northern terminus of the BCT off Orme Rd. then ride the trail all the way back, some 70 miles total.

The sun was out early to help warm things up a bit which was nice. The miles ticked off relatively easy even though I could tell this plus-sized tire setup was a bit of a hog.
This was the big climb of the day, a 2+ mile jaunt up Antelope Creek Rd.

Cordes, AZ where time stands still.

Nearing SR69 and the community of Spring Valley. There's a gas station on route if snacks are needed at mile 15.

Making the turn onto Orme Rd.
34 dirt road miles later, I arrived at the BCT...for more dirt road riding!!
I reached the Orme Rd terminus at 12:15pm, 4 hours on the dot from starting. I was feeling good about finishing in daylight, roughly 36 miles in 6 hours. Most of the remaining climbing was before I reached Antelope Creek, then it was almost all downhill to the car.
Russian Well.

I love the primitive feel of the trail north of SR69.

However, there are thorny bits and the trail gets tough to follow in a few areas.

Considering how dry it's been, I was surprised by the flow of the Agua Fria River.

This bike doesn't match the XB Ranch gate like the Voodoo did.

Hmmm, what's this? Copper Mtn. Loop...

This was a fun section!!
The final miles leading to SR69 had obvious trail work recently completed. The trail was in great shape, hopefully those efforts continue farther north. The catclaw could use trimming and more cairns are needed in spots. I forgot just how long this segment of trail was, something like 12 miles.

Big Bug trailhead.
Prime singletrack heading south.

This looks familiar...
I rolled across Antelope Creek Rd. into a large dirt open area. There was a group of 6 riders there, the only people I saw all day. I figured they would follow me around the upcoming hill, but I never saw them on the trail. It was a weird place to just hang out or wait for a pickup.

The overcast skies were now giving way to blue.
I was very pleased with how the bike performed over the loose, chunky, lava rock terrain. The larger volume tires soaked it up. It also climbed well over loose terrain, which always gives me issue. Not today.

Snack break at the top of Antelope Creek.

Golden Hour setting in across the high desert.

Empty trail this time of day.

It was cool to experience this section of trail so late in the day. I'm normally riding it before noon.

Western as fuck too.

Skirting the flanks of the Bradshaw Mtns.

Please do.

Bumble Bee Creek was still flowing too.
I crested the ensuing one mile jeep road climb that I'm not too fond of, took a short snack break and affixed my helmet light. I only had a little over three miles remaining, but light was fading fast and I knew I wasn't quite going to make it back before darkness fell.

Sky painters at work.
I rolled back to Bumble Bee trailhead after needing the lights for the final two miles. Not too bad considering the late start. Overall the bike rode really well. Again, not surprised that it felt sluggish on the dirt roads early on, but it wasn't too bad. I do plan to swap out the saddle & grips. My left palm started to get inflammed, but those items are merely cosmetic. The stuff that mattered, like the electronic shifting, was flawless. I was digging the wide bars too. I'd call it a huge success.  Now I needed to get down to Rock Springs for pie!!

I look forward to more adventures on the Chuparosa, perhaps sandier routes that my Motobecane can't handle so well.

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