March 18, 2012


I was planning on a nice back-to-back riding weekend, do the Picketpost to Kelvin ride on Sat then take the Gnar Gnar shuttle up the Black Canyon Trail, BCT, with a co-worker, Greg, for a 36 mile spin. The weather had other ideas. The wind began to pick up during our Sat. ride, but wasn't really an issue. Greg and I decided earlier in the week we'd go for it rain or shine. It's not often you get to test out rain gear here in AZ, so why not? By most accounts the BCT drains well. We were warned to stay away from the northernmost section due to sticky mud, no problem definitely didn't want any of that action.

We rose early, met up, then continued our hour long trek to Rock Springs to meet the shuttle at 8am. By 8:15 we were still the only ones in the parking lot and were having our doubts. The rain had let up, but it was still overcast. We called the shuttle & found out they decided to cancel for the day & we already on our way by the time that call was made. So, we altered our route for the day, heading south from the trailhead to ride the Skyline/Cheapshot segments. We were going to ride down to the top of the Little Pan Loop & turn around there for a nice 18 miles or so. This was Greg's first visit to the BCT so I was eager to hear his thoughts on the trail.

Snow all around.
The trail was firm, tacky and ready for some rippin'! We had checked on the flow of the Agua Fria River online & it was showing a significant spike in flow after the rains, but when we drove over it on I-17 there was nothing?!?! Our route would take us down to the river just after 1 mile so we'd find out soon enough. The crossing was a piece of cake, we were able to ride right through without getting our shoes wet. On the Cheapshot decent the rain began to fall mixed in with some hail, time to break out the parka! It was pretty fun experiencing different riding conditions, we often get so spoiled out here with the sunshine and dry climate that weather forecasts rarely matter.
Agua Fria river about a mile into the ride.

Top of the Skyline climb.

Ready for some downhill?

Dressed for wet.
We were really enjoying the velcro trail, I told Greg 'one more short section to go until the top of the loop, then we'll turn around'. No problem, right? It's only a little over a mile. About a half mile into it some cows had come down off the hill and used the trail for a bit tearing it to shreds. As we rolled onto the roto-tilled earth I could immediately feel my wheels gunking up. Nooooo!! Too late.
It only took a few seconds to turn a great day into a muckfest.
The trampled trail was only about 200 yards long, but the damage was done. We were almost at the turnaround point, but we surely would not be coming back this way. At least we had a jeep road option to circle back around. Unfortunately, the first section of jeep road was also a big pile of cookie dough mud!!
The 4-wheelers were enjoying the mud, we were not.

 We walked, pushed, carried our bikes for a bit, scraping mud off when we could until the jeep road became rideable. We finally made it back to the good part of the trail and spent the next 15-20 minutes picking off as much mud as we could before heading back. We soon came upon a wash crossing that had a few pools of water, nice, now we could at least clean the tires fairly well. From that point onward the ride was as stellar as the beginning. All told it took about 1 1/2 hours to go about 2 miles in the muck.
Practicing track stands in the mud??

The beautiful contours of the BCT.

Trail snake?

Greg flyin' down the Skyline segment.

Agua Fria beach.

Looks like the weather is breaking.

Love the mountain bike approved cattle guards.

No dust on this day!

1 comment:

  1. Man, I love the BCT! I've missed out on so much good stuff here recently! I bet that must have been some nice dirt. Drag erg frump and drat!