November 25, 2017

Brown's Ranch: All-Star Crew

I had one more day to ride over the Thanksgiving break. Rachel & Jefe were in town from Colorado visiting Rachel's family and we were able to sync our schedules for a Saturday spin up at Brown's Ranch.  Kaolin, from Flat Tire Bike Shop, would also be joining the fun. He's helped me tremendously with bike fittings, etc over the past couple of years, but we had never gone on a ride together.

When I tracked down the group at the trailhead, Kaolin introduced two more of his buddies, Dax & Shawn. I had heard of both of them before since they routinely place very high in any race/event they enter. This got me thinking...Jefe - fast. Rachel - fast. Kaolin - fast. Dax - fast. Shawn - fast. John - not so fast. Hmmm. This could be interesting if not short lived!!

Thankfully, no one was particularly interested in a hammerfest. Rachel made Kaolin promise. I figured I could keep up with their relaxed pace!! Off we go!!
Down the Brown's Ranch Superhighway.

Bluebird skies from Cathedral Rock.

Danger! Beware!! The daunting El Diablo...ok, not really, just a fun trail with some rocks to goof around on.

Spotted two more buddies out on the trails, Phil & Jamie - who knew Shawn. Both are from the Cortez, CO area.

Jefe & Rachel winding through the boulders.

Kaolin mashing the singlespeed.

Shawn flexing that chain!!

Dax & Kaolin should've swapped shoes.

Yeah!! HAB!! 

Such a fun section of Branding Iron trail.

Kaolin & Shawn leading the charge.

Dax hot on their heels.

Fairly typical of Brown's Ranch, packed parking lot & empty trails.

Crested Saguaro!!

What's in your backpack? Ziplock leftovers Thanksgiving feast? No? Jefe & Rachel think otherwise, taters & turkey anyone??

We ran into Bart, quite possibly the fastest dude on the block!! His trophy case runeth over. Stud.
I was very surprised to find out that Kaolin had never ridden any of the trails north of Branding Iron. The guy lives the closest!! So, it was cool to show him new terrain.

The pace was brisk most of the day, but very manageable for me with the breaks tossed in. I couldn't quite keep up with Kaolin, Shawn & Dax on the final trail, but that didn't matter. It was a great day cruising around Brown's with fun people.

Over the hill & back to the trailhead.

Quite the cast of characters: Shawn, Kaolin, Rachel, Jefe & Dax. Nope, no fun at all. None.
Lst's do it again sometime.


November 24, 2017

Gold Canyon: Ti Cojones

A call went out to our local East Valley Facebook group: Hawesaholics, from Curtis about doing a group ride in Gold Canyon. It had been a while since I last rode over there and Evan was still in town looking for more ride options.

We met up with the group for a nice tour of the fun stuff, including the newer Hoo Doo trail, now with another option for getting down the steep section.
Jacob on an off camber section of Hoo Doo.





Jacob on the new line, Cojones.

Evan dripping in.

The route carves over a few steep boulder slabs into a short drainage.

Mark on the lower rock roll.

Power move on the final boulder hurdle.

Steep runout to the end of the trail.

Jacob gives it a go.

Jacob takes on the tougher entrance to K-trail.

Evan glides over a double rock move on Phantom.

Chuck rolling through the Tech Loop.

Curtis doesn't worry about picking a good line, just bomb it.
Jacob had to cut out a little early while the rest of us did the Quartz Loop climb. It's the longest sustained climb in Gold Canyon. The ridgeline views are pretty spectacular too. We were about 2/3 through the descent when I heard a loud 'TING'!! Snapped Titanium seatpost. Drat.

I tried riding without a seat and that grew old real quick. I was able to pull the broken portion out of the frame easily and installed what was left of the post & seat. I figured a low seat was better than no seat. Sure was. Thankfully, we only had a couple of miles until the end so it wasn't a big deal.

It may be time for a dropper post.

No bueno.
In spite of the busted post, it was a fun day tooling around the local trails once again. Thanks to Curtis for organizing the group dynamic, let's do it again soon.


November 22, 2017

Goldfields: Slice O Heaven

Evan was in town for the week of Thanksgiving and looking to do a series of rides. I had some extra days to get out so we planned to meet up. He wanted to check out the Goldfield Mtns. after seeing my post back in May. Now that it was much cooler, I too was eager to get back out there. There's so much more terrain to explore.

The Goldfield Mtns. are not a trail system. No buffed out singletrack here. Rather, it's a series of primitive singletrack routes most likely created by equestrians. There's also a maze of jeep roads throughout the hills, that for the most part, ride fairly well. Couple all that with a few connector washes, rugged terrain and encroaching vegetation, you're bound to a slow paced ride. Sounded perfect to us.

We'd start out doing the route I began back in May, but had to turn around due to time constraints.
Our first bit of singletrack, leaving the Superstition Mtns. behind.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood was a complete shitshow. It appeared to sustain damage due to high water during this year's lackluster monsoon season. Large cacti were uprooted and much more sand than in May.

We were in hike-a-bike, HAB, mode for most of this trail.

Nearing the end of Frankie, we ride.
A short spin on jeep road brought us to Horse With No Name. There's a 10 minute HAB for the price of admission to this playground. Worth it? You decide.
Evan pedals a brief moment on the way up.

Four Peaks comes into view as the playground opens up.

Time to play!!

Weaver's Needle & Superstition Mtns. frame the climb.

Traction for days.

Evan had his GoPro, so a couple laps were in order.

Down the hatch.

So many alt lines in this area.

Most of the climb is rideable, perhaps all of it?? There are a couple uber steep spots.

Looking over the top.

The perfect confluence of rugged and freeride.

Let's see what the rest of the trail has in store.
There are a few steep, loose descents to contend with before returning to primitive singletrack that winds through the desert scrub. The trail was fairly obvious to follow. One thing that seems to be a constant in the Goldfields is that the continuous riding is very limited. Lots of on/off/on again riding. You've been warned.
Dropping off the freeride area.

A bunch of the trail simply needs a brushing of loose rock.

There's fine singletrack out there too, in doses.

Some small rock features to mess around on.

Plenty of cholla to keep things interesting.


Beautiful Saguaro forest.

It looks so fuzzy!!
I started to ride ahead for a photo op, Scott Morris style. You know, fist pump skyward. It went well...until my front tire hit some soft sand and my weight shifted forward!! I missed grabbing the bars with my right hand on the first try...and the I continued to sink in the sand and lurch forward. Ruh-roh. Bars crossed up and down goes Johnny. Smooth. I'm still waiting to see Evan's animated .gif of the wreck. The still shots were hilarious.
Flat trails are hard. Photo by Evan.
Shortly after my mishap, Horse With No Name dumped us out to Cottonwood Wash. It's a 99% HAB wash at this point. Deep gravel, large boulders, but incredible surroundings!! We did find another small freeride area to sample before slogging over a mile to the next trail.
Cottonwood Wash.

Found this alcove above the wash for a quick diversion.

Back to the HAB!!

Slow going through here.

Slow was fine with us though.

Whoa!?! What do we have here??
Yep, our HAB through Cottonwood Wash paid dividends as we turned onto Slice O Heaven trail. As we found out, it was aptly named. There were hardly any HAB bits. I'll be back for more of this one.

A little slice O Golden Hour too.

Willow Springs Tank trail rode well in a SE direction.

Back at the vehicles as light fades over the Superstitions.
There's still plenty more to explore in the Goldfields. Due to the nature of the terrain and trails out there, it may be best to go with another person. We never saw anyone on our ride (7 hours) and I doubt it gets a ton of traffic anyway.

I hope to find a viable loop for Slice O Heaven, thus avoiding the Cottonwood Wash section. Time will tell.