April 29, 2018

AZT: Mormon Lake to Flagstaff

Beto & Shannon were well into their AZT450 ride (Picketpost to Utah) when I had time to try and meet up with them. They were just wrapping up arguably the toughest stretch of the route between Rye and Mormon Lake. Specifically the Highline & Happy Jack segments. Just brutal.

This ride was also going to be a progress check for my Achilles. My plan for the day was to meet them at the Mormon Lake Lodge and ride to Flagstaff, but that required a shuttle drop. Thanks to Dana, I was able to secure a ride south from Flag. Beto & Shannon had camped a few miles south of Mormon Lake and were already waiting for me when I arrived with burritos & hot chocolate!!

Shannon decided she was done after the heavy trail toll and Dana was able to give her a lift to Flagstaff where Beto & I would be by day's end.
It was a quick board meeting for Team Loco.
Beto & I opted to rejoin the Arizona Trail via the Navajo Spring trail. I had only been on the upper bit of that trail and Beto mentioned that the lower portion was fairly torn up by the nearby horse stable. What's a little hike-a-bike, HAB, to get things going?? It was cool outside, not cold, but the wind was howling. At least we'd be in the trees most of the day.
Assume the position right out of the gate.
There were only a few short HAB bits on the Navajo Spring trail, not too bad really. We linked up to the AZT and began heading north on mostly good singletrack. It contoured the hillside as it wound it's way around Mormon Mountain. We navigated through a series of gates, of course we did, it's the AZT!!

Somewhere in here, Beto's light popped off his handlebars!! Gah! If you find a black Fenix light you know where it came from.

The trail then begins a fast gradual descent and follows an old logging railroad bed for a few miles.
Decaying railroad ties can be seen throughout this area.

This elevated lava rock section was really neat. Note the nice trail on the right!!


Beto cruises through a prescribed burn area that seemed to use the trail as the 'fire break'.

Snack break near the beginning of Anderson Mesa at the Horse Lake TH.
Anderson Mesa. What can be said about it? It's relatively flat-ish. The jeep road section is choked full of embedded lava rock in sections, but rideable. If it happens to rain, you're screwed. The 'soil' turns to cookie dough death mud, complete show stopper & crusher of souls. It was dry today, but the wind...oh, the wind!! It was gusting over 30mph and was mostly a crosswind with an occasional tailwind for good measure. I found the singletrack portion to be in relatively good condition. It seemed like a lot of the loose baseball-sized rocks were all but removed and the typical postholes from grazing cattle were also non-existent. Dare I say that Anderson Mesa wasn't too bad?? Really.
Our framebags were like sails through these open areas. blowing us side to side.

Smooth-ish singletrack.

Beto checking off the miles northbound.

Ride selfie stoke!!

Humphrey's Peak slowly growing larger.

Upper Lake Mary.

By far, the best view along Anderson Mesa. Mormon Mtn. on the horizon behind Upper Lake Mary.

Marshall Lake officially ends Anderson Mesa. Back into the forest we go.

Getting closer...
There has been some re-routing done as the trail drops off the mesa. It's nice to get off the fall-line rubbly jeep road, at least for a bit. The final descent still has some tricky moves, but I was able to ride the whole thing as we dropped into the more popular sections near Flagstaff.

By now my Achilles was aching once again and I was ready to be done with the ride. Only a few more miles to go. The forested singletrack here is really great, but it seemed to go on forever. Normally, not a problem, actually encouraged, but on this day I wanted to be finished.

Near Sandys Canyon.

Fisher Point.

Beautiful singletrack leading away from Fisher Point.
Beto clipped his handlebars on a boulder ahead of me, one blink and his bike was lying on the ground and he was balanced over it precariously as it teetered on a short dropoff. It's amazing how fast something like that can happen. Luckily it was no more than a pause along the ride.

We wrapped it up a few miles later. While Beto & Shannon opted to end their AZT450 ride in Flagstaff, I'm glad I was able to tag along for a short bit. They can always resume the adventure in the fall when the leaves are in full color.

Great riding with you, Beto. Until next time!! Cheers!



April 15, 2018

Brown's Ranch: Phase 3

The desert air is beginning it's steady rise and with it the trail building season here is winding down. Brown's Ranch has been getting miles upon miles of new trail the past few seasons. This winter was no different. The master plan calls for trail construction in phases, now in phase 3. Each phase has smaller corridors mapped out, see image below. The new trails I've been sampling have been really fun to ride as they are using a bit more of the natural topography.
Phase 3 plan with lettered corridors.
I'm still nursing a sore Achilles, but needed some trail time. Seron was free for a few hours and hadn't been on any of the new stuff. I concocted a route of sorts to hit all the new terrain plus a few bonus miles on the trails inside the state trust land parcel.

We staged at the main trailhead, but there is a new, temporary, trailhead at Pima & Dynamite Rds. for access to the SW corner of the system. Gates there are locked shut at 5pm until the the permanent trailhead is finished. A good rule of thumb if parking there is: the trails leading away from the parking lot trend uphill, so it'll make for a fun finish to rides staged from there.

We hopped on Hackamore trail and barely 5 minutes into our ride found the fresh dirt of corridor A. Had to put tires on that. It was a mostly downward trending trail that rode quickly linking into the rockpile that is sure to have a few play areas on it.

We skirted around the rockpile to one of the new corridor B trails. This one climbed gently, but wound it's way through a few large boulders.
Cool topography in this area.

The builders did a nice job of routing here.
We took one of the old moto trails back down and made our way over to Axle Grease trail. There may or may not have been a little bit of bushwhacking to get over there!!
Axle Grease has really gotten burned in. It's a rather fast track now.

We were on the uphill-ish direction. I have yet to ride this trail in the opposite direction.
We were doing good on time, so I found an entry into the state trust land area. There are tons of trails here, maybe 40 miles worth?? They are mostly older trails, but hand built. True singletrack. Fairly easy to follow once on them. It reminds me of the ride scene two decades ago. The parcel land is slated for development. How soon is anyone's guess, so head out there before the trails are gone.

We linked back into the system trails via Malpais trail. There was another new corridor B trail I wanted to ride. It's a variation of the old Dare-a-Sarah trail.
Seron exiting Malpais trail.

No longer Team Voodoo, but this will do.

More bouldery goodness.

We reached our junction back down near the rockpile. Naked signposts were scattered about the fresh dirt intersections.
We began to make our way back to the parking lot via the MTV trail. I came over a small rise in the trail and to my surprise, there was a Gila Monster slowly crossing the trail!! I locked up my brakes to avoid riding over him while he hissed his displeasure at having to hurry across the trail.
By far, the coolest creature in the desert.

I've lost track of how many I've now seen over the years, 15? 20? All since 2013.

He had enough of our picture taking and crawled into his den.
By now my heel and Seron's knees were about done with pedaling. A couple more miles and we put a wrap on it. It was a perfect morning to be out on the trails. Brown's Ranch keeps getting better. While it's not for everyone, I enjoy the relatively easy spinning miles. The new trails should be appearing on official maps shortly.
That's all folks!!