June 2, 2018

Prescott: Mixed Bag of Tricks

Mark and I had planned on doing an exploratory ride up in the Bradshaw mountains the first weekend in June, but the Prescott NF closed off sections of the forest and with it, some of our intended route. I gave Mark the task of coming up with another 25-30 mile route using some lesser traveled trails and preferably new-to-us dirt. Not a real easy task, but he was up to it.

I knocked out a few hours at work Friday morning, ran some errands then made my way to Prescott. We loaded up Mark's truck and went in search for a camping spot. We drove past one of the closed forest roads on our way up the mountain. To our surprise, Mark's choice spot was still vacant so we snagged it, yanked off the bikes and rode up to the overlook with 5 minutes to spare before sunset.
Golden Hour light in Arizona is something to behold.

Sierra Prieta overlook.

Dammit, I forgot my spraypaint. WTF is wrong with people??

Another day in the books.
Back at camp we set up Mark's absurdly over-engineered tent. Not sure I could set that thing up solo.

We didn't get as early a start as we would've liked, but neither one of us seemed eager to get moving in the wee hours of the morning. By the time we ate and were ready to ride, it was 9a. Oh well.
A few easy miles early on.

High above Thumb Butte, Humphrey's Peak way off on the horizon at 12,633'

West Spruce trail started out splendidly.
The trail morphed into a series of relatively short, punchy hike-a-bike sections for me...Mark rode everything. Ok, he did walk one super steep, chewed up switchback just so I knew he was human. That's one of many reasons I like going on rides with Mark, he tries to ride everything!! Usually does. Watching him power up some insanely steep grade makes me think I can at least give it a whirl. Sometimes I pull off the feat.

W. Spruce dumped out onto a section of the route with a disclaimer from Mark: 'Be warned', he said, 'I drew in this section based on satellite view'. Now, where have I heard that before?? I couldn't quite place it...

To our surprise this connector trail was an actual signed trail, Porter Mtn. Spur trail - #300, and was mostly downhill and rideable!! Win. We rejoined another forest road where it had been closed off to entry. Time for a snack break.

So far, the closure area had been very well marked.
We noted how rugged the road was, the one we were about to ride down, and joked how we'd doubt anyone drives up it. Barely 2 minutes later we heard a rumble, then a forest service employee came bouncing up the road. He was out patrolling the area to be sure the closure notices were being followed. We only noted two hikers a bit earlier, they too were obeying the rules.

Social trail connection.

NO campfires!!

Looks like we're back on a system trail.

On our way over to Spence Basin.

This section of the route was really fun, lots of downhill.

Saw our first group of riders near the bottom of Firewater trail. We didn't see many riders all day.

Rock outcroppings become more prominent as we enter Spence Basin.

Double step power!!

Random location for a car hood.

The aptly named Tunnel Vision trail's namesake.

Another namesake: Juniper Gate.

Giant rock slab with multiple lines to choose from.

It's stuff like this when I wish I had a dropper post. My Brooks saddle is too wide to get behind.

Alternate line.

What goes down, must surely go up.

We found the double black spur, Lloyd's Drop.

This was the upper section, a steep roller.

Followed by a 3' huck-to-flat.
The trails in Spence Basin were really fun. Plenty of rock features to play on, enough zigzagging to keep you on your toes too. 

Our route took us to the Thumb Butte TH where we topped off our water and chatted with another rider for a bit. It was mostly uphill back to the truck from here. Time to pay the piper.

Midway through the steady climb back to camp.

The entry to Sparrow trail was hardly noticeable, but the trail was easy to follow. The grade wasn't steep, but I was about at my limit for the day.

Naturally, after all the climbing, we found a sand trap at the top of the mountain barely 1/2 mile from the end.

Nature is neat. *Note to local yahoos, this is NOT a trash can.
This ride ended up being exactly what I needed. A good solid beatdown. I can tell my fitness has slacked off quite a bit with the lower mileage rides, etc. I'm ok with that...for now. I'm really itching for big miles once again. Thanks for putting together an awesome route, Mark. Until next time...


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