11.18.2017

AES: Picketpost Punisher C '17

As much as I wanted to ride the A route for this year's AES Picketpost Punisher, it wasn't going to happen. I haven't done anything remotely close to that kind of effort since finishing the Colorado Trail Race back in August. Instead, I've been doing a ton of social paced rides albeit in some incredible places and I don't regret any of them!! So, for this year's Punisher I figured I do the short route C and hang out with the other riders. Sounded good to me! *Short does not equal 'Easy'*

For some odd reason this particular event tends to summon the gods of wind. The last couple of years the wind has been something to reckon with. The extended forecast was looking great...well, except for the day of the ride. You guessed it, windy. WTH?!? Thankfully, it wasn't supposed to be as bad as the prior years, but nonetheless it was going to be windy on Sat. and only Sat. Bizarre.

Another slight snafu arose in the days leading up to Sat. I found out Picketpost trailhead now has a site host and the gates are locked sunset to sunrise. Normally, not much of an issue, but our fearless A Route riders begin a couple hours before sunrise. I made the necessary calls to the Globe Ranger office so the host knew what to expect and passed along the info to the A riders.

Saturday had arrived, let's ride.

The two A riders were long gone by the time the B & C groups began the neutral spin on the Arizona Trail, AZT, north to Hewitt Station rd. We regrouped there and each group went their separate ways. The first few miles are generally uphill, but nothing too steep on well traveled dirt roads. I assumed my position near the back of the mid-pack.
Nearing the ranch on FR650.

I leapfrogged a few riders most of the day. Here, the early portions of AZT below Montana Mtn.

Returning towards Picketpost Mtn via Ricewater Ridge. Upper loop almost complete.
The route dumps back onto FR8 and overlaps the morning segment by a couple of miles before turning east towards Superior. I caught up to Sam here, didn't think I'd see him again after he pulled away early in the morning. We rode on/off together over the next bunch of miles.

Sam cruising the new US60 shoulder into Superior.
We took a short break in the shade of the medical clinic before the rugged Telegraph Canyon section. A couple of riders from earlier, Janet & Lenny, rode by. We never caught up to them. Distracted perhaps??

AES racing is serious. VERY serious. Ooh, look!! A skatepark!!

Rich joined in the HAB fun on Telegraph Canyon.
Telegraph, aka FR4, is a brutally rugged 4x4 route carving a slice in the Earth near the east side of Picketpost Mtn. Some of the steep, gnarly stuff is rideable, but it takes so much effort to do so. It's often better to save a few matches for later.

Sam getting his fill of HAB as we go south beyond Picketpost Mtn.

Does this guy ever ride his bike??

There's Sam on the far turn, riding!! Not pushing!!

Back on the AZT for the final 7+ miles of 'downhill trending' trail, right after this climb!!

Picketpost bike porn.

The wind had died down during the afternoon and I was feeling good over the final miles as I reeled in Rich.

Nice group hanging out afterwards too. AES pro-tip: don't be in a hurry to leave after the ride!!

The AZT & Picketpost Mtn., a winning combo in my book.

G'night now!!
The wind ended up not being much of a factor after the morning. Only a handful of DNF'ers this year. Both A riders called it quits in Kelvin for various reasons, luckily they landed a hitch back to the trailhead. Only one fella on the B route rolled in after dark, not too bad.

Next year, we'll make more of an effort to check on the trail at least a month prior so we don't have to alter the course for the B riders. (I opted to skip the AZT in favor of forest roads around the top of Montana Mtn. after encountering a ton of catclaw a couple weeks earlier)

All in all, it was a great day to be outside on your bike, even next to it sometimes!!


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