January 13, 2017

Ripsey!! Team Loco Edition

Once again weather was threatening to alter ride plans for the weekend. The forecast was indicating showers arriving late on Friday. We had a small group ride planned for a Ripsey loop, but as the time grew near only Shannon and I ended up going.

No problem there. We both had huge ride plans for the following day so this would be a super chill picnic pace type of ride. Plus, there was a short connector I wanted to check out that omitted some sandy jeep roads & powerline riding.

We agreed on a 10a start time and I was thrilled to sleep in a bit...then sleep some more!! Oops. I arrived about 20 minutes late and we saddled up for the ever exciting climb up the Florence-Kelvin hwy. (4 1/2 miles of graded dirt road that tends to drag on) It went by quickly having someone to talk to on the way up!! Too bad we didn't have a donut stop at the top like last time.
The flat top section of the F-K Hwy. Photo by Shannon.
Our route took us farther west on the F-K Hwy, out to Tecolote rd. A seldom used dirt ranch road. It rides well, but does have some sandy sections.
Mtb multi-tasker.
Tecolote rd.
A few miles later I began looking for my 'shortcut' to the Arizona Trail (AZT). It looked like a fairly obvious 2-track on satellite, but as I have found over the years, this isn't always the case on the ground. Today was no exception as we rolled right passed the turn. We went back to where my track had us turning and all we could see was desert. There was a patch of ground that had less vegetation so we started riding that way. Sure enough, that was our 2-track which eventually began to resemble one. A half mile or so later we arrived at the AZT where it splits off the powerline and begins the Ripsey segment heading north. Win!!
Well defined 2-track!! Photo by Shannon.
I don't think I had realized that Shannon had only been on the Ripsey segment once and that was during the AZT300 last year!! She was looking forward to checking it out on fresh legs & a light bike!!
Shannon putting me to work for the ATA. Photo by Shannon.
The powerline road runs left to right, my bike is on the AZT and our vague 2-track fades off into the desert.
Dropping down into the Ripsey drainage.
I was thrilled to see this road has finally been fixed. It was extremely eroded making it tough to walk up in the past.
A 'pedal position tip' (inside pedal to the rear, i.e. right-hand turn, right pedal farther back) helped Shannon clean a ton of switchbacks today!!
Grinding the SS up The Big Hill.
Up we go!! The Hill always looks more daunting from afar, but it actually rides pretty well. Photo by Shannon.
The upper 6 switchbacks always give me fits, but I managed to clean 2 of them today. Photo by Shannon.
The top of the climb gives way to one the best views along the entire AZT. I always stop here for a few minutes to soak it all in, it's an amazing place even on a overcast day. We had joked about there being a bar atop the ridge and today I made sure we at least had a beer. The Ripsey Roadhouse was open for business.
First pours and what a view!! Photo by Shannon.
The upper 6 switchbacks of The Big Hill and view of Mt. Lemmon. Photo by Shannon.
Best ridgeline in AZ?? 
Top of the World.
So many colors. Photo by Shannon.
Wheelie practice. Photo by Shannon.
Starting the 5 mile descent to the Kelvin trailhead. Photo by Shannon.
Little bit-o-tech on the way down.
One ridgeline leads to another.
The entire Gila River Valley makes you feel so small.
Steer clear of these guys!! Plenty of chollaballs on the trail today.
This downhill is part of the switchback attack section, some 13 or so of them. Photo by Shannon.
Shannon demonstrating the awkward switchback approach, yet she still cleaned it!!
A perfect 30 mile loop on a cloudy day. Thank you AZT.
We decided the AZT is the perfect location for all future Team Loco (#locorides) board meetings!! Which passage to ride next?

Route flyover:


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