June 24, 2017

Mt. Lemmon: Controlled Inferno

Loco minds think alike. I had begun to plan another ride down on Mt. Lemmon to check out a possible loop using the upper portion of Oracle Ridge. I thought Shannon & Beto were off to N. AZ, but found out they were camping up on Lemmon for a few days and had planned on a similar ride!! I guess it was meant to be. Oracle Ridge for fun...once again!!

I drove down to their camp spot and it still baffles me how it takes 3 hours when I can see Mt. Lemmon from my house!! (I have to go a few blocks for a unobstructed view) It was a pleasant 77º when I arrived, but it was still early and that was already a bit warm for that elevation. It was going to be a toasty one.

We were hoping to add in a loop up on Aspen Draw after Oracle Ridge, but we'd see how we felt upon our arrival to Summerhaven.

We were a bit delayed in leaving the campsite after chatting with Will and watching a clunker derby unfold before our eyes. Crazy stupid looking fun!!

A quick dirt, then road spin led us to the Oracle Ridge trailhead, let the fun begin!!
Ready for an Oracle Ridge adventure!!
Shannon knows how to shred some gnar.
At times, it feels like dropping off the face of the Earth.

Hard for some to believe, but there is sweet singletrack on Oracle Ridge!!
Before we knew it, we had arrived at Dan Saddle, our AZT exit.
This is the start of the nasty HAB on the AZT, but some recent trailwork has been completed. It looks inviting now...

The next piece of our ride puzzle was a jeep road connector over to the Control rd. It was all downhill and much to our surprise, it rode really well. We all noted how the heat was cranking up the lower we rode.
Beto all smiles in the cool shade.
Good riding surface all the way down.
#loco board meeting.
Our route led us just below the mine.
No gates or signs coming in the back way!!

Wake up!! Time to climb!!
It had to be 100º by the time we dumped out on the Control rd. Only 6 'short' miles back to Summerhaven. Did I mention they were all uphill? We took our time, stopping every so often for a slice of shade. Beto even rode ahead only to come back down a couple of times to ride with Shannon. Sweltering Control rd repeats!!
I spy two very small riders grinding up the road.
Shannon didn't see me sitting roadside, but I caught her snacking!!
The temps relented a bit as we reached the pines. In the morning we had talked about riding up to the top for a rip down Aspen Draw to finish out the ride, but we were hot & tired and only wanted cold drinks after reaching Summerhaven.
Ahh, ice cold water at the community center.
We headed over to Sawmill Run for lunch. They had the A/C pumping pretty good and after a short while Shannon was getting cold sitting there in a sweat soaked shirt. Beto insisted they swap jerseys and Shannon finally gave in to the idea. I knew this would be interesting, kinda like putting on a latex glove...
I don't know, but Beto rocked her jersey in style!!
It was now borderline hot in Summerhaven, so Beto & I rode the mostly uphill miles back to camp while Shannon hung back in town. When we reached camp Beto knew why Shannon had been so hot on the ride up the Control road. That blue shirt doesn't breathe!! He drove back to get her while I prepared to head down the mountain and back home.

Another fun ride on Oracle Ridge complete. This may have to become a summer tradition.

Route flyover


June 17, 2017

A Hawes Horse Tale

Word on the interwebs stated a new trail had been roughed in out at Hawes. By all accounts it sounded fairly primitive, my kind of trail.

No better person to explore a new local trail than my 'ol riding bud, Seron. He'd been getting back on the bike lately and we were able to make our schedules work. No longer Team Voodoo, but the Burrito Brothers remain even if no tasty tortilla wrapped goodness was had.

We were about to head out when a rider, Landon, showed up a bit late for meeting his riding pals. He was new to the trail system, so we offered to show him around.
Great perspective of Red Mountain from the top of Magic Mountain.
Shred the gnar!! Photo by Seron

Yeah!! Carve it.
Here's the new guy, Landon.
At the bottom of Secret trail Landon was ready to call it a day. It was his first ride after a 2 month break. We chatted for a bit and the conversation led to Seron & I talking about some of the local endurance rides. Landon said something along the lines of 'I sure picked the wrong guys to follow around today!' I told him, 'No way, you found the right guys to follow!' We'll see if our paths cross at a future AES event.

Seron & I wound our way over to Twisted Sister where we found an old Hawes trail friend.
The high contours of Twisted Sister.
Hello, old friend.

We bombed down off Twisted Sister and knew the new trail, Horse Tale, would be coming up on our left. It was easy enough to find. The trail elevation profile looked a bit more downhill in this direction. The first half or so of the trail rode really well.
Sweeping views of Red Mountain.
A burnt streak from a recent brush fire.
Random objects you wouldn't expect to find out here.

Our exit of Horse Tale. Photo by Seron.
Overall, we liked the trail. It's still raw, a bit loose and could use a little bit of work in a few spots. I'll be interested to see how it holds up when the rains come. More tires will help firm up the tread. In time it'll be a nice addition to the network.
Putting a wrap on a fine morning.
It was so good to ride the trails with Seron once again. It had been over a year since our last ride!! Hopefully we'll start doing this on a more regular basis.
It's official, I'm a Hawesaholic. Cool shirts for the locals put together by Mr. Beerduro, Shawn. Well done!!
Hawes Horse Tale flyover


June 12, 2017

NC: W. Kerr Scott

Summer (May 15th - Sept 15th in my book) here in Phoenix is hot. Duh. I really don't mind the heat, you learn to deal with it and acclimate for outdoor activities if you're into those sorts of things. I am. However, it sure is nice to break up the intense heat with routine trips up north to the high country or in this case a vacation with the in-laws back east in the mountains of western North Carolina.

We caught our desired flight out on Friday afternoon and arrived near Boone, NC shortly after midnight. Our plans for the five days were simple: eat good food, sample a ton of beer, relax and squeeze in a day of riding.
Our view for the next few days.
Our first stop was down in Hickory at the Olde Hickory Brewery. I snagged a flight of brews to share with K as we dug into some southern grub.
You don't say.
First night's sampling.
We firmed up plans to meet with more family on Tuesday. This freed up Monday as my day to sample the local trails.

Sunday we drove to Plumtree, NC to visit Blind Squirrel Brewery. Such a friendly staff and atmosphere there.
Will serving up the suds.

River floats & ziplines here too.
Found this at a local grocery store, had to buy a single.
Mast General Store in Valle Crucis is a real throwback in time.
Nice signage.

Monday rolled around and I was ready to ride. I drove down to Boone Bike for the 10a opening and secured my rental for the day. A full suspension Specialized Stumpjumper FSR carbon 29er. I had to take off both wheels to fit it in the rental, but it worked.
Plenty of room!!
I originally thought I'd have to be back by the 6p closing to return the bike, but they allowed me to return it by 11a the next day without charge. My plan for the day was to head about 30 minutes east to ride the trails at the Kerr Scott reservoir, then come back to Boone to ride Rocky Knob bike park. K and I had hiked there a few years ago and I really wanted to ride it. I also knew I was trying to squeeze in a lot of miles & drive time into a relatively small window.

My first stop would be the Warrior Creek trails on the west end of Kerr Scott.
Pump track action at the trailhead.
Buff. Machine built contours were the name of the game.

Not a ton of water views considering the trail was right next to the reservoir.
Just your average looking series of turns here. Berm me.

A rare grass-lined section of trail in the forest.
This was the only open area I rode through all day.

Bermed drainage run, yes!!
Typical scene.
Nooo, not Happy Jack!!
Warrior Creek was really fun, but I didn't cover the miles as fast as I thought I would. It was warm, low 80's and a bit humid for this desert dweller. I was soaked from sweat, mostly because it doesn't evaporate like it does in AZ.

Warrior Creek flyover

I started to pack up the bike and couldn't get the front wheel through axle to break free. I futzed with it for a few minutes and said 'screw it'. I put the bike in the trunk, half hanging out the back. It was only 7 miles or so down the road to the next trailhead. But I knew I'd have to work out a better solution for the drive back to Boone.

The second ride used a small portion of the historic Overmountain Victory Trail. A trail used by patriot militia during the 1780 Kings Mountain campaign. The ride was mostly an out-n-back with a few side loops added.
Ride into history.
I consulted the Trailforks app on a few occasions to see which fork in the road would seem to flow better. Worked like a charm.
Freeway overpass, trail style. I rode the serpentine first, then a few miles later came back across the bridge.
Boat housing.
The only down tree all day, but it was huge!! It provided me with a bushwhacking HAB fix.
My ride was going much slower than anticipated and I almost cut this loop out. Glad I didn't.
Another stop to wring out my headband cap, just drenched.
In AZ we don't get to ride next to water often.
By the time I wrapped things up, it was 5:30p and I conceded that I wouldn't have time for Rocky Knob park. Not if I wanted to stay married. I kinda like my wife, so I packed up and made a quick exit back towards Boone where a refreshing shower was waiting. At least I remembered to bring a change of clothes for the drive back. I was so soaked, my cellphone case  that I clip to the front of my pack was wet and had a salt ring on it!!

Kerr Scott OVT flyover


Our last two days in the mountains were spent relaxing with family, bird watching, storm watching and of course some more beer sampling.
The lineup at Blowing Rock Brewery.

Here comes the rain.
10 minutes later.
Barrel aged samples.
Incredible view from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Local history lesson.
Moses Cone manor.
Where did the mountains go? Another round of storms rolled through.
One last tasting with a Pliny I brought from the west coast.
Fiery sunset from the porch.
Full lineup from our visit. Not too shabby.
Morning fog pockets on our way to Charlotte.
Yep, all of this was in our checked luggage. Score.

Back home in the heat, we decided the mountains of North Carolina may have to be an annual summer retreat. I think we both felt recharged after our relaxing time there.