December 1, 2018

AES: Pleasantville '18

I was on a roll, going for my third consecutive AES ride after missing a whole bunch of them. This was the second running of Pleasantville, a clockwise loop around Lake Pleasant. The turnout was solid once again bringing out a few of the AES old guard. It was great to see some guys who haven't been around in some time.
Regrouping after a short neutral rollout. Quite a few fast guys in the mix.
We switched up the starting area a bit, skipping the 'Sand Box' from last year and adding a mud bog?!? Yeah, but it was short and rideable.

The pace was swift at the front end and I settled in to what I hoped to be a comfortable, steady pace all day.
The early wide flats made it easy for the group to spread out.
 I saw a familiar face on the side of the trail, it was Mark, down from Prescott for the ride. He quickly caught up and we decided to roll the entire route together. Always a good time riding with that dude.
What's this?? Blast from the past. Sharon Sell & Rich Wolf!! I met and leapfrogged with Sharon during the AZT300 in 2013. I last saw Rich during his 2015 AZTR750, he was killing a day at the South Rim as I had finished up a day hike in the Canyon. Small world. We'd end up riding over half of Pleasantville together.

Pretty good snap considering I took it while still riding!!

Mark crossing the dry lake bed. That's the now destroyed floating bridge. Hopefully, a new one will replace it if and when the lake levels return.

Sharon & Rich flying by the north end of the Lake Pleasant singletrack.

The far mesas are on route and would be a point of reference most of the morning.

On to the fast dirt roads wrapping around the north end of the lake.

The mesa slowly grows near.

We passed a few horseback riders dropping into the valley and found a whole herd at the bottom!!

This is about as much color as you'll find in the desert during autumn. Sure is cool.

Our first wild burro sighting!!

Long rubbly climb, Mark had been looking forward to this all morning.

Of course he cleaned it.

Good thing we host this ride in early December. This was news to a bunch of us.

Mark dropping into a dry north finger of the lake.

My turn.

At the bottom, a sea of cockleburs!! Ack!!

Dry dock hucking, anyone? Mark was game.
 We were riding a dirt road section through here when a fella approached, pulling a fishing boat with all his gear. That was some dedication. I mentioned that he still had a long trek to reach water, but he was not deterred. It was already noon-ish, seemed a bit late in the day for such an arduous task, sure hope he planned to spend the night.
A bit of hidden singletrack.
 We crossed the dry Agua Fria and took a snack break as Sharon and Rich caught up to us. We were now on Table Mesa Rd. getting set to join up with the Black Canyon Trail. There's a two mile climb that starts almost immediately and I was curious to see how I'd feel on it. Last year I ended up walking a bunch of it due to lack of power/energy. I was still feeling good today.

Mark and I slowly pulled away from Sharon and Rich for the final time. The climb seemed to go by rather easily as I was only tripped up a couple of times by stray rocks. I was feeling fairly strong. The past few weeks of training were definitely beginning to pay dividends.
Mark heading up a switchback section.

Doe Valley.

The second saddle after Table Mesa Rd. This signals the end of the work for the ride.

The signature peak in New River: Gavilan Peak.

Bicycle rock art.

A second sighting of wild burros near Emory Henderson trailhead. There must have been at least 30 of them.

The final stretch of BCT and some familiar peaks of the Phoenix area.

Looking back northeast.

Mark attempting to ride across New River. He didn't get far.

Rejoining the Maricopa Trail as it scoots under I-17.

The final bit of trail.
We finished up and there were still a few riders hanging around!! It was kinda nice to break my DFL streak too.

Sharon & Rich rolled in about an hour later after getting all turned around trying to cross New River!!

This is such a fun route utilizing a bunch of well known system trails and seldom used jeep roads to vary the scenery. There's really not much BS on this route. Put it on your list, just don't ride the route during the Eagle nesting season from Dec. 15 - June 15 and be sure the Lake Pleasant water levels are lower than 80%. Water levels can be found here.


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