December 31, 2016


It's not often that I have to alter ride plans due to weather. The New Year's Eve forecast was gloomy at best with more coming on New Year's Day. I scoured the local forecasts looking for a hole in the rain. Some buddies from the west side were going to ride the Black Canyon Trail, but had to cancel due to muddy conditions. Instead, they planned a ride around their local Estrella Mountain Ranch (EMR) trails.

At first I thought I may do a big loop over there checking out some more new-to-me dirt, but it was getting late and I hadn't really researched my route like I would've liked. So, I told Josh I'd join in on their ride since they were hoping to ride around 40 miles or so.

I mentioned that I had never been on the trails in Estrella Mtn Regional Park and the other local guys, Henry & Rhino couldn't believe it. I had always heard the trails were rocky & just so-so. Only one way to find out. Ride 'em. Shawn was also joining in on the ride. We had never met, only emailed back & forth over the years about getting me onto one of his custom Ti bikes, Tronix. I was all set to get the ball rolling on that when the Motobecane came along.

There had only been enough rain in the area to pack down the sand & dust. Most of the trails out here are rocky through & through, so they drain very well. We entered into the Regional Park and made a beeline for a normally avoided trail since it's primarily a wash. It was a slight uphill rip on this morning.
The Sun tried to come out on a few occasions.
Top of the Homestead wash trail.
Henry grinding out the climb.
Layers upon layers of mountains back here.
Good crew for a spin: Rhino, Henry, Josh & Shawn.

Henry & Josh on the nicely contoured Rainbow Valley trail.
Rhino & Shawn on Rainbow Valley.
The high peaks of the Estrellas stayed in the clouds all day.
Quartz outcropping on Pedersen trail.

We exited the Regional Park and crossed paths with Derek, he was out on a big solo ride, while the fellas had enough for the day. I still had more exploring to do. I rolled off into the Pirate trails with two goals: ride Up There and check out the gnarly Blackjack trail.
Can I be trusted? No one else around.
Stumbled onto this wicked jump line. Whoa.

I made my lap through Up There and began the climb to Blackjack. There are some ultra tight switchbacks and tech moves with exposure along the way. Fun stuff.
I'd say the warning is accurate.
Ride the spine!! Or walk it.
Some serious effort went into building this trail.

I made it down Blackjack without incident, walking plenty of sketchy sections. It was the easy trail on the bottom that bit me. I dropped into a small wash, caught a rock just right with my front wheel and felt the back end coming up. OTB!! I did my catlike jump over the bars, but clipped my right foot on the handlebars!! Gah!! I landed fairly hard on the rocks, of course on my right hand. Luckily it wasn't too bad, but I could feel a bruise developing almost instantly. Time for some smoother trails to finish out the day.

I ran into Derek once again as I was about to get on the Loop trail system. By now we had both crossed over 40 miles on the day. I was still hoping to at least get a loop through FINS before calling it a day.
Market trail climbs behind the Safeway.
I knocked out some fast miles and made my way over to FINS. I wanted to do the Grunt trail, but somehow missed the turn and simply did an outer loop of the trails.
The Sun finally staying out for a while.
Looking back towards the Regional Park.

I rolled back to Josh's place a tick under 49 miles on the day bringing my 2016 riding to a close. What a year it was. More on that in the next post.

It was a great final weekend of riding for 2016. New dirt, new friends and new areas.

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