June 3, 2017

Pine: Donahue Did It

Who wants to go for a ride in Pine? The call was made. I few people showed interest, but in the end it was only Joe and I. We met at the Pine trailhead for what hoped to be a good mix of singletrack, dirt roads, new trail and of course the obligatory hike-a-bike. (HAB)

Our ride started with a few miles of pavement to get to the Bearfoot trail. There's a dirt option to get there as well, but our route was big enough on this day so we had to speed some things up a bit.

The Bearfoot trail has been around for a few years now. It's a great 5 miles or so of singletrack. A little rocky/chunky in bits, fast in others. There are a couple of climbs mixed in along the generally downhill trending direction we rode.
Fairly typical scene along Bearfoot.
Joe's a strong rider and I couldn't quite keep up with him. Hopefully I didn't keep him waiting too long along the way.
If you're gonna be slower, be sure to goof around. Photo by Joe.
Our next trail was Pine Canyon. I rode it last year, but the upper reaches weren't quite finished yet. There were plenty of fall line sucky sections. I had heard that work had now been completed. We were both eager to find out.

Joe left me in the dust on the climb, which is really nice btw. Up top the new trail work was evident and rode really nice.
Fresh dirt on Pine Canyon.
The descent off Pine Canyon was rockier than I remembered and we were both glad we chose this direction to ride.

We hopped on the Pineview trail and it was getting noticeably warmer. I had been chugging water all morning and really hoped I'd be up for the full route. We found a nice shady spot at the Highline junction for a snack break.

I knew what was coming. A heavy dose of HAB. What I didn't recall was a bigger effort up Highline to the Donahue split. This section of Highline has been rerouted and rides fine, but the warm temps and steady grade were really taxing.

I caught up to Joe as we stared at the impending stroll over loose softball sized rocks for the next mile+. The vegetation encroached the trail corridor, scratching our arms/legs & pulling at our bikes. A couple extra steep pitches greeted us where foot placement was key. This is true Grade A HAB. About halfway up, Joe pulled away from me. I took a short break to wipe off the sweat and catch my breath.
Shade break. At least the trail is easy to follow in daylight.
The trail eventually crests the rim, but the riding surface still sucks. More HAB. I thought we rode more of this section last time, but it was dark. I was feeling really worked over and now had serious doubts about finishing another 30+ miles.

Joe was taking a break in the shade where the crappy trail turns to forest road. To my surprise it was already 1:15p. I couldn't believe we'd been out for over 5 hours!! We were 23 miles into the ride, but I also knew I was done. A quick check of my water levels and I was down to about 15oz from the 100oz I started with. It didn't help that we both neglected to bring water filters. As much as I hated to bail on my own ride, Joe was riding well so I encouraged him to finish it. He agreed and soon rode off while I took a few more minutes in the shade. You can read about Joe's adventure here, it was a doozy!!
I didn't do so great on the action photos for this ride. This was the only pic I got of Joe, as he took off to complete the ride.
Even though I was low on water, I didn't have any hard miles left. I had a few miles of forest roads that would lead me out to the paved AZ87, then a bit of fast flat riding before a long screaming downhill back into Pine. I wasn't too thrilled about riding on AZ87, no shoulder there and traffic is always present and fast. At least the road has a good line of sight.
Peering across rim country.
Welcome to Strawberry, AZ.
I've always wanted to get a picture of the Strawberry sign, but there's nowhere to easily pull over in a car and you're flying down the road when you come to it. Much easier to pull off the road on a mountain bike!!

I made it back to the car around 3:15p and was a bit stunned that I still logged a 40+ mile ride. I sent Joe a text letting him know I made it back, he was just starting his Highline fun.

A quick stop in Payson at Alfonso's Mexican for take out and I was on my way home. K & I were done with dinner and relaxing at home when I got the text from Joe saying he had just finished. It was 7:45p!! Yikes. Way to stick with it!!

Joe's a good sport and can handle himself out there. He'll be back for more zany ride ideas. I should have my shit together for the next one!!

Route flyover


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