February 5, 2015

Gold Canyon Tour with Mr. Topofusion

I figured if I kept putting a bug in Scott's ear, posting pics and proposing route changes to the AZTR750, I'd get him to come up to the Phoenix area to finally ride Gold Canyon. It worked!! We found a sweet spot in our schedules and met up for a tour of sorts through the Gold Canyon trails and beyond.

We were gathering our things together at the trailhead when a couple of older guys asked us if we were finishing up or heading out. We said we were on our way out and noticed one of the guys was on an eBike. Oh, the horror!! That seems to be the general consensus when the term eBike is brought up around mtb enthusiasts. I'll admit it, I was one of them. We listened to this fella say how it's allowed him to keep riding while his knees fade to Father time. He was on some German prototype full suspension rig, looked just like a mountain bike, except for the large casing on the downtube just above the bottom bracket. He then offered us a ride on it!! The 'throttle' was a small handlebar mounted control with +/- keys. He suggested to put it into 2nd gear when we started riding up the slope of the parking lot. We jumped at the chance to check it out. Scott went first.
I don't think either one of us snapped a picture, but this was similar to what he was riding.
He cruised down the lot, arced a big turn, made the two pushes and began to pedal. The look on Scott's face was priceless, staring down at the bike, then with a sly grin he looked my way and laughed. I told the guy that Scott was the last person to need a little boost while climbing!! I need it just to keep up with the mountain goat. My turn. Same as Scott, I began pedaling on the incline and it had the feeling of pedaling on a slight downhill...easy. Not necessarily faster on our short demo, but definitely easier.

This bike still weighed a ton, probably 45-50 lbs. and the assisted power isn't going to get you up a steep chunky climb. We saw the two guys later HAB'ing up some techy switchbacks. The eBike was just as quiet as any other bike. The rider still has to pedal, perhaps easier at times. One thing was clear, it was an eye opener. I have a feeling they are here to stay. Our new friend was thrilled to be out on the trails he loves. There will be undoubtedly be discussions on whether or not these machines belong on non-motorized trails. Stay tuned....

After our parking lot foray ended, we finally hit the trail. I opted for what I consider the standard Gold Canyon route. Start out on Lost Goldmine, then fly down the super fun Cougar trail. Then, head over to Holy Hill, slap the cowbell on the way down!! Exit to the Old Horse trail then cut in to the end of K-trail up to the Vortex. We then jumped onto Gila Monster where I was promptly thrown a curveball - a new connector trail had been added!! We opted to take it to see where it led, it took me a minute to realize we were headed backwards on K-trail. A quick reversal and we were back on Gila Monster grinding out the short climb up to the Whiskey Cactus.
The Whiskey Cactus giveth. Photo by Scott.
We had barely started on Diamondback when Scott's chain snapped!! Not a big deal, right? Well, not usually. He had a modified quick link from his CDT tour. But as luck would have it, he had another one pre-modified ready to go!! The tour rolls on! Saguaro Squeeze linked us back to Lost Goldmine, then onto the now famous K-trail.
I like to point at things. Photo by Scott.
Rolling a seldom used alt. line down Spider Rock.
Right as Scott was completing his drop down Spider Rock we heard a loud hissing sound. We immediately thought it was the back tire...until we recognized the sound. The first rattlesnake of the season. I poked around a bit, but couldn't find the fella, only a skin lying in the bush.
Scared him right out of his skin!!
I took the more traditional approach. Photo by Scott.
After Spider Rock the fun really begins as K-trail winds it's way around, dipping and diving in & out of washes. It's quite the hoot. We completed our loop and dropped back onto the Old Horse trail, but instead of making our way back to the trailhead we went left, then down by Quartz Ridge to the exit out to Peralta rd.

After futzing around on some dirt roads east of Peralta rd we made a quick stop by Walgreen's for a cold drink. Next were a series of dirt frontage roads along the US60 corridor into the heart of Gold Canyon. We were now on a proposed slight route change to the current AZTR750. Instead of following US60, we veered inland a tad to another dirt road turn singletrack up the flanks of Silly Mtn. It's not long, but a simple reminder that singletrack abounds in this area if you know where to look for it.

We cruised up the neighborhood on pavement looking for the side-door entry to the Jacob Crosscut trail. I've only gone up this trail once before, it's rideable, but chunky nonetheless. Scott wasn't too enthused by the 'No Trespassing' signs posted on the telephone poles. While not private property, some of folks in this area relish the solitude.

Up on the Jacob Crosscut the tech riding begins. It starts out a bit rough for the first quarter mile or so, then gets really good. The trail follows the contours of the land all while the Superstition Mountains tower above. It's the closest you can legally ride to the dominating west buttress of the range as the Wilderness boundary is only a few hundred feet higher on the slope.
Getting my HAB on below Flat Iron. Photo by Scott.
Our plan was to ride north on the JC trail until it reached First Water rd., flip it around and take the trail all the way back to Cloudview TH where we parked. I made sure to mention my disclaimer re: rough trail conditions near the end of the ride, but I had a feeling Scott would enjoy that section unlike most riders.
In giant letters, the postcard should read: Greetings from Arizona!! On the Jacob Crosscut trail. Photo by Scott.
Beautiful backdrop for a ride!! Photo by Scott.
Notice the lack of Saguaros through here.
IMO, the JC trail flows better in the southern direction. We made good time getting to the gnarly stuff. Time to practice your rock surfing skillz...
I heard some laughter on this one.
The sun was dropping quick and I knew the West Lost Goldmine would be slow going. I was curious to see if more trail work had been performed since my last ride. There was!! I made note of the monstrous cairns next the trail. See, those cairns were recently made from all the rock that had littered the trail - and it was still rough, but much more manageable. Soon the trail regressed back into the type of trail the Tucson guys dub for their weekly Techy Taco Tuesday rides. The flagging is everywhere and the trail is getting a much needed facelift.
Golden hour bliss. Photo by Scott.
Contrast in styles, barren cliffs tower over a lush desert floor. Photo by Scott.
Of course this ride wouldn't be complete if we didn't need lights. So, the lumens were cranked up for the final roll down a connecting jeep road over to Cloudview. Ride complete, tour complete. Perhaps a bit more singletrack added to the AZTR750?? Not this year, but maybe in the near future.

It was a fun time showing Mr. Topofusion some trails he hadn't ridden before - that alone is tough to do!!
Another ho-hum sunset in the desert. Photo by Scott.

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