November 22, 2012

Flight of the Turkey '12

Similar to last year, K had to work on Thanksgiving meaning I had the day to ride & our holiday feast would wait until Friday. That also meant that I wouldn't be able to tag along with the group on Friday for the annual Flight of the Pigs ride. With that I continued my own tradition of sorts, the Flight of the Turkey solo ride of the course. I'm sure not nearly as fun, but this year I wanted to at least make good time on it just to prove to myself that I could hang with the group. Last year's ride took way longer than I thought it would, so this year I vowed to start early!

I met up with a fellow mtbr forum rider who was in town from San Diego to show him a bit of National Trail. We were rolling around 6:30a, still dark as we started the climb up the Mormon Loop. By the time we hit the 24th St turnoff the lights were no longer needed.
Geoffrey enjoying what S.Mtn has to offer.
Sunrise over S.Mtn.
I was pointing out some of the highlights of the area, playing tourguide as we picked our way up National. We came to the base of the Waterfall and I bid Geoffrey farewell and wished him luck on his descent of National. Up at the saddle before the Buena Vista lot I ran into a large, 15+, group of fully armored DH riders getting ready to shred. Thankfully I was able to get my XC butt through there before the stampede!!
In a few hours I'd be riding through downtown, then behind the mountains.
I really enjoy the next section of National from the BV lot down to Telegraph Pass, I just don't get up there enough. The trail flows really well with just enough chunk to keep things interesting. The hikers at Telegraph are always amazed at the mountain bikers as we navigate down the final couple of switchbacks to the road. I took a short snack break here & watched about a dozen roadies come flyin' down the pavement. Soon I was back on my bike and ready for the HAB up towards post #33.

Post #33 on National marks the turnoff for the Pyramid Trail and begins the incredibly scenic and somewhat exposed ridgeline of west National. This section of trail is so underrated, partly due to the difficulty in reaching it. The effort is duly rewarded.
West National ridgeline.
A couple of the alternate descents towards the Ahwatukee side.
View back to the east & the TV towers.
Riding high above the kingdom.
There's one short stretch on the downhill that I'm not fond of, a short steep section of surfing babyheads with a s-curve thrown in. I walk down that. The trail finally mellows as it rounds the mountain and finishes on a desolate stretch into the San Juan lot. I wanted to keep my time under 4 hours to San Juan and was very pleased to make it just under 3 1/2. I was well ahead of schedule and our Thanksgiving date with our friends was shaping up to be ontime!
View from the San Juan lot.
Snack break before rolling onto the streets.
I took off around 10:40a popping out near 43rd Ave & Carver (Warner Rd alignment) & followed the canal banks for a bunch of miles. Eventually, I came to 7th Ave and turned north, not much traffic only the occasional barking dog behind a fence.  The residential area gave way to a more industrial zone and as I passed by an auto repair shop a barking pitbull came running out behind a fence, no big deal. The dog was yapping its head off as it kept pace with me for 50 feet or so, then I saw the OPEN GATE, rut-roh. The dog came running towards me, but wasn't overly aggressive. Thankfully, the owner heard the commotion and ordered the dog back. Whoa, that was a bit too close for comfort. Pedal on.

I crossed over the railroad tracks and arrived in downtown to vacant streets. It's pretty cool to ride down Central Ave among the tall buildings without the bustling of a business day.
Orpheum Theatre.
All quiet in the big city.
Soon the buildings give way to dirt paths and a tree-lined Central Ave. I made my way back over to 7th Ave and up to the T100 trailhead for the next section of singletrack.
Mountain View park
Not exactly a Thanksgiving day feast.
T100 is the main artery in the network of trails at Phoenix Mtn. Preserve (PMP), I can't say I'm a huge fan, but it does have some really fun sections. At least this year I didn't get all turned around navigating through the west end. At the top of one climb a couple other bikers were out enjoying the day, we started chatting a bit and one of them asked me where I was headed....Pima Canyon lot @S.Mtn. I just got a blank stare for a second then they asked about my route for the day. As I was getting ready to head off, they mentioned that they were getting tired after 7 miles & couldn't imagine being 42 miles into a 68 mile ride. We all chuckled a bit as I told them I felt the same way about 3 years ago. 6 miles later I was at the Tatum lot on the grassy knoll, it was now 2pm and I was 3 1/2 hours ahead of last year's timing, albeit I started later last year too.
The grassy knoll sans beer & bacon. :(
My GPS was on 'low battery' so I hooked up my external charger only to have it reset my Garmin, drat. Seems like the AA's were running low too and I didn't have any spares. I'd just run it until it died, which I thought would be any minute. A single charge has not given me more than 7 hours runtime in over 6 months.

 I was now back in 'roadie' mode on my way to Papago park and the final pitstop at Hunt's Tomb. Papago was the first place I rode a mountain bike way back in 1994, there are still some really fun spots tucked in there. The view from Hunt's Tomb is really nice on a clear day.
Last stop at Hunt's Tomb.
One of my favorite views at Papago.
A-Mountain on ASU's campus.
The perch overlooks the Phoenix Zoo, where K works, so I checked in with her & gave a wave before making my way over to Mill Ave and downtown Tempe. I started the final push towards S.Mtn, GPS still surviving on fumes. The miles ticked down quickly and before I knew it I was riding up the Pima Canyon access road. I could see my car, taste the chocolate milk, and then...beep...'low battery'...dead. GPS finally konked out only 150 feet from my car and just shy of 10 hours runtime. Wow. I was really surprised that it made the entire route on one charge. It was only 4:18p when I finished, sun still shining. At least now I know I can do the route in a timely manner, hopefully next year I'll be with 50 other piggies. Oink, oink, gobble, gobble.

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