January 10, 2015

AZT Jamboree '15 OnB

It's January, time to kick off the annual Arizona Trail fundraiser - the AZT Jamboree!! This was my 5th year riding the shuttled event, you would think I knew how long it takes to drive to the trailhead by now. Nope. For some reason I had '2 hours' forged in my melon. It takes 3 with prep time. So, as I stopped for gas in Vail I waved as the two Southwest Trekking buses drove past going the opposite direction.

No need to fret as this section of the AZT is primo and I had yet to ride south from this particular area. Chad was hanging out with his furry friend waiting for people to arrive for the later shuttle. My buddies, Rob & Scott were living large in a huge RV cooking up gobs of bacon. Don't mind if I have a slice or two while I chowed down on a bagel.
Windy, but fast trail to start.
I rolled out around 9a into a stiff chilly headwind. A couple of miles later the wind died down as I hugged the hillside approaching the Colossal Cave area. A few people were stirring at the campground, but I rolled through as I didn't need water so early in the ride.
La Posta Quemada Ranch, good place for a burrito if needed!!
The ensuing climb away from the ranch quickly warmed me up. It's a well contoured section of trail weaving it's way back and forth up the mountainside. A couple of the upper pitches had me off the bike briefly, but soon I was bouncing down the trail through one of the more technical stretches.

The three bridges area came and went and I saw the AZT folks out setting up for the days other trail event at the Gabe Zimmerman trailhead. Before I knew it I was crossing under I-10 and snaking my way over to SR83.
Fast trail near I-10.
Crossing the Old Sonoita Hwy.
I thought I may begin to see the shuttled riders approaching any time. So far I had only seen a handful of day riders. My intent was to at least ride south to the wonderful aid station and maybe push on a few more miles to The Lakes rd. I couldn't have been more than 1/4 mile away from the aid station when the flurry of late shuttlers began approaching. I reached the aid station a few minutes later and decided it would be best to turn around there instead of surprising the 40-50 riders who had yet to come blasting down this awesome portion of the AZT.

Mark and Daniel showed up shortly after my arrival, then Rob and Scott came rolling up a bit surprised to see me there. After indulging in a beer and mini-pizza the five of us turned north.

Back at the I-10 culvert, I talked the fellas into jumping into the sandy drainage, but it had been filled in with a ton of sand. Not quite the large drop that Seron did a few years ago!!
The Gabe Zimmerman festivities were well under way now and we stopped to chat with Sirena & Matt for a few minutes. Then we decided to skip the easy road crossing and venture down to Cienega Creek and stay with the AZT.
Approaching the dropoff.
Of course old habits die hard, I veered left at the 2-track split and we dumped back onto the road by the railroad tracks, not down at the creek! We didn't feel like riding back up the hill, so we followed the tracks briefly to the bridge where the landscape drops quickly to the creek below. We poked around a bit, then found a relatively easy passage down, but we had to duck under the bridge to do so.
Daniel diggin' the mini-excursion.
Back on the AZT.
There has been significant trailwork completed down at the creek since Seron and I last attempted to follow the trail down here. That was an early lesson in bushwhacking up a canyon wall!! Not today. The AZT follows a small side canyon up & out of the riparian area, well built and fully rideable. I just need to remember to veer right at the jeep road split up top for next time.

The rest of the ride back to Pistol Hill went by rather quickly. I had a nice run through the techy bits cleaning everything on the return to La Posta Quemada. A few of the bigger hits caught me by the campground, but otherwise I had my tech game going rather well.

Back at Pistol Hill the brats were cooking and brews flowing. Always a good time catching up with my Tucson riding friends I don't see nearly enough.
Get the grill!!
I was getting ready to head out when Rob & Michele finished up their ride...on their Klunkers! Singlespeed coaster braking it. This is of particular mention, since Rob was recently featured in Mountain Flyer Magazine (Issue #40). Rob is such a down to earth cool dude, it's nice to see a fella like him get some big time recognition. On a side note, I managed to get one of my photos published in the article, look for this one in the mag:
Rob klunking around the Sedona BFL this past March.
If you haven't made it to an AZT Jamboree, put it on your list. It's a great ride, fun times and it benefits the best trail in the state!!
Arizona has a seemingly endless supply of these.

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