February 9, 2019

Hawes: Traveling Salesman

We all have our bucket list types of rides. Some are certain areas we've always wanted to go to, others are events, and others are simply routes we've concocted. This particular ride was the latter, an all encompassing ride through the Hawes trail system and included the TRW offshoot. I wanted to include that bit of trail because that's where my introduction to Hawes began way back in 1994. I've done this sort of 'kitchen sink' ride here before, that was 7 years ago, but I was cut short when my rear derailleur imploded after 52 miles. There have been quite a few trail additions since then and it was making my efficient route planning quite difficult.

In the end, when I started turning the cranks, I decided to simply wing it and let the trails come to me. The only thing I really had planned out was to ride the TRW section first, get it out of the way since it's more or less an out-n-back.

I staged out of the Park-n-Ride lot under the Loop 202 freeway. This was by design as there are two parallel trails on each side of the canal. I'd start by riding the west side to TRW and finish the ride exiting the Hawes system on the east side.

It was an overcast, cool morning which would hold steady the entire day. Perfect for a huge ride. I made my way over to the TRW trail and the first order of business was to ride the 3 trails on the main hill. Then, a popular theme for the day, knock out a short out-n-back (OnB) to a main access point.
Down Saguaro on the flanks of the TRW hill.
Red Mountain from the top of TRW hill.

Next was a series of unmapped social trails that spiderweb all over the place, yet seem well placed. I've ridden these trails a bunch of times, but by no means do I know the area intimately. I started by taking all the left fork options until I reached the canal. I then closed the outer loop and began picking off the inner loops. Having an app record the ride was super helpful here as I came to an intersection, I could easily see which way I had gone before or if it was my first time to the point. Believe me, after a while they all look the same!!
South Canal.

Fancy trail median points the way.

Somebody's been busy moving rocks!!
I wrapped up the social loops and made my TRW exit. I was right on schedule, as it took 1 1/2 hours to tally all the combos.

Now things were going to get interesting. I wanted to ride some of the main interior trails and leave a logical final loop to end the ride. Again, a few OnB's would be necessary, but I zigzagged through the central trails knocking out some of my least favorite ones, saving the best for last. Once I was satisfied with my initial pass through, I made my way towards the Mine trail exit. I picked up Horse Tail here and wrapped around the mountain to the north side of Hawes where all the new trail building has occurred.

I took a snack break at the Wild Horse junction while I confirmed my next plan of attack. That included making a short loop back to the main Hawes interior trails via Twisted Sister. This would clear two possible OnB options, allow me to tick off a couple of trailhead spurs and use a bit of pavement to speed up the operation back to the north side.
While I sat crushing some snacks, my buddy, Ezra rode up, then two more friends rolled in off Wild Horse, Steve & Brett. We were all out on independent big rides and happened to meet. I ran into a lot of riders during the day, but these were the only 3 that I knew. Crazy.

Not a bad view from Twisted Sister.

Even better view from the Tequila Tree, still bearing fruit. This route demanded a visit.
My plan through the north side was easy to figure out, do a figure 8 through the new trails and exit via High Horse. Halfway through the figure 8, I realized I should first do another OnB to the NRA trailhead.
Target shooting is prohibited here, but tagging is ok.

I passed by the Beetle remnants at 3pm.
Originally, I had thought I'd be able to ride all the big climbing & technical trails first. As the day wore on I was beginning to see that I'd be doing most of the slow, hard riding near the end. Oh well.

I was now on a steady climb towards Alpe D'Huez trail. Then the real climbing began...followed by hike-a-bike (HAB). I was somewhere around 45 miles into the day, no real idea how many miles it was going to take and I didn't really care. It was now 4pm and the slow trails were upon me. I was feeling great, but knew I wouldn't wrap things up before dark. I was regretting my decision to sleep in. I could've used that extra 1 1/2 hours of daylight!! Ha!
Finally!! A little bit of riding on Goat trail...and more HAB.

High point attained!!

Looks like some additions to the sign appeared.

The big bad city far below.
This was my first time riding westbound over Gidro Pass and I was looking forward to riding down Cactus Garden for a change. The bad news? As I rode down the bottom 2/3 of Cactus Garden I was reminded that I'd have to climb back up to reach Super D or whatever that trail is called.

But first, I had to cross off a long time Hawes trail that I had never been on. Say what?!? Yep, believe it. I had never been on the Microwave Tower trail. I had heard stories of gnarly white knuckle descents, which really aren't my thing. The bottom of Cactus Garden actually puts you fairly high on the hill anyway so it was an easy choice to HAB up Microwave trail.
Oof. That was work to get up here!! Top of Microwave trail looking east towards Pass Mtn.

There it is, the namesake.
I'm not going to lie, I only rode about 20% of the trail going down. I thought that was pretty good considering I didn't think I'd ride any of it on the way up!!

Next up was the upper reaches of Hawes trail. It loops high around some multi-million dollar homes including some nutjob owner who harassed trail users and filed false reports all while being recorded much to YouTube delight. What a kook. Anyway, it was easy to tell which house was his, since it's plaster with No Trespassing signs.
Definitely in the high rent district.
I did a quick loop on the crappy Mountain Wash trail and noticed I may luck out and catch a spectacular sunset during my Cactus Garden climb. There was a pie shaped slice of blue sky appearing on the western horizon...
The good portion of Mountain Wash trail.

The Sun makes an appearance and the hillside is aglow in golden hour rays.

Ooh, this is gonna be good!!

Funky cloud formation provided a perfect sunset canvas.

Top of Super D, switching to night riding mode.
I took my time on the downhill since there's a bit of penalty for failure in spots. I was now on the final lap so-to-speak. It's one of my go-to Hawes routes: Hawes trail - Magic Mountain - Disneyland - Secret - Saddle - Mine - Ridge - Back to Hawes & out via Fenceline. Of course I had a little bit of cleanup to do. Two short OnB's before heading out Fenceline.
Nothing but darkness between myself & the city lights. I was a bit surprised to not see another night rider.

Climbing Mine trail at mile 55 felt pretty darn good.

One of the final trails of the ride.
I wrapped things up at 8:30p almost 12 hours on the dot and under 64 miles. The climbing stats varied between Strava & Garmin, 7600' to 8100' respectively.

I felt fantastic at the end of the ride, so much so, that if I had more time I would've thrown in a Pass Mtn & Usery Park loop. I felt I had at least another 6-8 hours in me. I haven't felt that good after a solid ride in a while. I think all this training is paying dividends.
Route overview.
I have a few other areas that would be fun to do a Traveling Salesman loop, some I've done already, but new trails have sprung up and others would be a first. Time to start planning...

*Check out the flyover, it's rather amusing!!


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