May 6, 2012

Hawes: Full Meal Deal

I've been trying to concoct a route over at Hawes that incorporates all the main trails (minus a few spur connectors) without much double-backing. In addition, I wanted to add in some trails at Usery Mtn Park, predominantly Pass Mtn, for a total distance in the 50-ish mile range. After printing out a few maps and drawing in potential routes, I settled on one that fit the bill. By my pre-ride estimation I was looking at something around 48-50 miles.

Outside temps were beginning to rise in the afternoon, but the mornings are still pleasant. So I decided this would also serve as one of my warmer pre-summer conditioning rides. Throw in a few things I've learned from my bikepacking experiences and I'd also be scouting for re-supply spots along the way. This aspect of the ride really wasn't a stretch considering I've been on every trail out there except for one short connector. This was going to be fun!

A few potential ride partners few through at the last minute, so this was going to be a solo effort. On occasion it's nice to get out on your own, set the pace for the day, stop when you want and take as many pics as deemed necessary. Wait a minute, I already do all this!

The pedals started turning at 6:30a out of Red Rock Community park, a short 1 mile jaunt through the neighborhood and I was on dirt. I cruised through the TRW trail, then onto the powerline/fenceline trails before hitting the goods at Hawes. Aside from the Hawes trails being super fun, they offer you the opportunity to make different routes every time you visit.

The main arterial trails are signed.

Red Mtn. in the early morning glow.
I snaked my way 'backwards' through a series of trails. Most riders prefer certain directions on a couple of the trails for flow, this day was about completing the map. I made my way up to Twisted Sister for the route that leads off the backside of the mountain & over towards Usery Mtn Park.

Saguaros are in full bloom.

The morning desert aroma cleanses the soul.
I rolled off of Wild Horse trail & onto the Ellsworth rd. climb for a couple of miles. I have to admit it was nice to reel in and pass one of the recreational 'roadies' who frequent this hill climb. I don't think he was too pleased to see a knobby wheeled, full pack wearing, suspension clad mountain biker go right by him. I said 'Good morning' and kept on pedaling. I found my connector trail albeit sandy and made my way towards Pass Mtn. trail.
The northern saddle of Pass Mtn.
After a bit more climbing I was at the main saddle and the high point of the loop. Time for some chunk downhill! I was stoked to clean everything on the upper portion of the mountain. These 29" wheels have really helped my confidence on gnarly descents.
A little bit of exposure at the beginning.
Look what I get to ride down!!

It keeps going and going.
After the bumpy downhill I was getting ready for lunch. A quick spin over Cat's Peak then a flat cruise on the Blevins trail put me in a camping area. I refilled my water here, but the water was fairly warm. I kept my eyes peeled for another water source as I rolled back out. An hour of easy spinning on the flat trails of the park brought me back to Pass Mtn to complete the west side of the loop back up to the connector trail I entered on.  Now it was noon and getting warm to hot outside. I spotted another restroom at the Wind Cave TH and rode over to see if that water was chilled. Score! Now I really liked my chances of completing what I set out to do.
Barrel Cactus flowers.
I was actually looking forward to a bit of pavement riding when I popped out on Ellsworth rd. for the second time. I crested the hill and near the top is the entrance to a shooting range. I wondered if they had a concession stand for the gun toters. I rode in and not only found a free water dispenser (from the large 5 gallon jugs) but I also spied a soda machine. The ensuing Pepsi went down oh so good!!
View from my shaded soda spot.
I had a few more road miles then a HAB grunt up the upper Hawes trail.
HAB awaits.
The views from the top do not disappoint! From here it was almost the home stretch, a long downhill run over towards Mine Tr. for the last climb of the day.
Microwave towers on upper Hawes.

Downtown Phoenix through the haze.
I soon made my way to Mine Tr climbing up past the Twisted Sister turnoff once more. I briefly heard the cry of the Tequila Tree, but alas it was hot, I was tired and ready to be finished. On my way down the super fun Ridge Tr. I heard what I thought was a twig caught in my rear wheel. Nope. Imploded derailleur!!
End of my riding.

At least it happened very close to the road.
I was really beat by this point so I decided to just walk out, call for a pickup and wait in the shade. I was in no mood to attempt to create a singlespeed.  In the end, mission essentially completed. Full network of Hawes + Usery Mtn route established. So I sat & waited for my ride as all the lake dwellers zoomed by me back to suburbia. Another good day on the bike.
Wounded warrior.

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