May 29, 2016

Black Canyon Trail...and Yachts

May was winding down and by Valley of the Sun standards, we got off easy. We were actually easing into summer mode for a change. I figured I could still get in a decent desert ride during the day, but was having a hard time deciding where to go. Tough problem to have, I know. Then George reminded me he was doing a shuttle ride on the Black Canyon Trail with his Casa Grande buddies. They had room for one more, so it was settled. BCT here I come.
Packed in like sardines.
I arrived early for a change at the Bumble Bee trailhead. We were going to ride down the trail to here from the Big Bug trailhead off SR69.

There was a fella already gearing up for a ride in the parking lot and as it turned out, it was my buddy, David, out for a Tour Divide training ride. Look for the DP dot here: Trackleaders - Tour Divide 2016 beginning June 10th. He was off to ride the dirt road up into the Bradshaw Mtns to the tiny outpost of Crown King. One of these days I'll make the spin up there.
A man ready for a grand adventure!!
A few more riders showed up, but they too were going off on their own trek. The first guy knew my name, but I didn't recognize him. Turns out it was Tom Vassago of Vassago Cycles!! We've been digital friends for a while and finally ran into each other. Kind of cool to have a bike company owner proudly admit to 'stalking' my rides!!

George and the others arrived, we packed his truck full of bikes and headed north. There would be 6 of us in our group including two Todd's, one Chris and one Karl.

I had only ridden the 7 1/2 mile section between SR69 & Antelope Creek once before, it wasn't anything to get too excited about. Until today. The trail was greatly improved, probably from more bike traffic and less cattle post-holing. That's what I remembered from my first time through.
George remembered to smile!! Todd #2 on his maiden BCT voyage.
Karl on an early dirt road section that was shorter than I recalled.
Next up was the Antelope Creek segment, some of the most fun you can have on a bike. Five miles of almost all downhill contoured swoopiness with a bit of exposure mixed in. Fun, fun, fun!!
The trail isn't overly technical, but does command your attention.

We reached Crown King rd and George took a poll: Who wants to get a beer? It was unanimous, we'd take a 5 mile detour up the dirt road to the mining town of Cleator where there's a bar and yacht club. Yes, a yacht club. No water in sight mind you.
The entire town of Cleator sprawled out before you.
An eclectic place to kick back.
Sea of rocks & cactus.
There were a few tourists hanging around curious to know where we came from and where we were headed. By 11am it was getting warm, time to mosey down the trail.

I was crossing one of the rock armored drainages when I became stuck on a large rock. The rear wheel came up and I was about to go over when I ejected off the trail and down into the wash five feet below. The bike came crashing down, but otherwise seemed fine, so I rode on not thinking much about it. Chalk it up to another bullet dodged while riding.
Short uphill leading to the second long downhill of the ride.

Chris nearing another rock armored wash.
Karl's in there somewhere.
We crested the only real sustained uphill of the day and I thought something didn't feel right with the bike. I lifted the rear wheel and gave the cranks a hard 1/2 pedal. The rear wheel barely made it through two full revolutions before abruptly coming to a halt. Hmmm, looks like I bent my rotor during my tumble. There were only 5 miles or so left and the bike was riding well enough that I opted to not futz with it. A little added resistance training!!

One by one we wrapped up the ride. David happened to finish his training ride a few minutes later as well. It was a great day to be out, but probably my last BCT ride until fall. A ride on this trail isn't complete until you stop for some pie at the Rock Springs Cafe. The place was packed per usual as I waited for the others to retrieve George's truck. Thanks for the invite guys, had a blast.

1 comment:

  1. Great write up! Been reflecting all week in what a great time we had!