April 17, 2020

NoPho: Phoenix Sonoran Preserves

The west side rides had been good to me over the spring. Why not keep it rolling? It looked like the weather was going to stay mild for at least one more weekend allowing for long-ish desert rides before pointing the car north going forward.

I've had this route in my back pocket for the past few years, never got around to giving it a go. My Burrito Brother, Seron, had essentially come up with it, I just added a bit to it. It's affectionately known as the STD&P route. Haha, not that kind of STD!! This kind: Sonoran, Thunderbird, Deem & Pyramid, fool. The route isn't intended to ride every single trail, but it's also not one to simply cut through a system either. The goal, get a nice sampling of each area. In the end it should be somewhere around 65-70 miles since there's a bit of paved riding to get to each system.

I opted to start at the Southern Sonoran Preserve, SoSo, then head up to the Northern Sonoran Preserve, NoSo. That way, I'd come back through the staging area where a cooler would be waiting in my car to top off water, etc. That was the plan anyway.
Heart rate elevated from the get go. I forgot how much the entrance trail climbs.

City views come quickly.
There were a few photographers set up on the side of the trail. I stopped to ask what they were shooting. They pointed to the large Great Horned Owl nest in a trailside Saguaro. The nest was full too, I could see the tips of their ears, but not much else...until later.

Massive nest cradled by Saguaro arms.
I began my way through SoSo by going clockwise around the northern loop. I had only ever ridden it the other direction. The first half was fairly quick, then a sizable climb coming around the north side before finishing the loop. It was nice getting it done early instead of doing it after returning from NoSo.

The climbing mellowed a bit as I made my way around the southern loop.
I only made one wrong turn, a dead end out-n-back to a gated community. At least it was only a 1/4 mile round trip goof. Back on the main trail, I was keeping my eyes peeled for a connector trail leading to NoSo. It had been built/ridden in since my last visit which was years ago.

So far the route was a nice mix of good climbing grades and fun downhills.

The connector trail, kinda 2-track-ish at the start.

It soon narrowed and came alive with wildflowers!!
I entered NoSo via the popular Apache Wash trailhead. There are a couple of easy, fast loops at this end of the park, might as well knock them out early. I made a route snafu here by riding the Apache Wash loop first, which is farther west than Cliff Walk/Esplanade loop. Not a huge deal, but it meant a bit of backtracking. I felt like I had settled into the ride, but it was getting a bit too warm for my liking. Keep in mind, our spring had been very pleasant, cool actually. The first few days of warm weather are always an eye-opener. Even us desert dwellers aren't ready for the heat this time of year!!

NoSo has more sustained climbs, one of which forthcoming.

I think it was on this climb where I felt the wheels starting to come off.

A brief respite from the grind.

I didn't recall the trails being so loose. I guess time & usage had taken a toll, either way I walked more than I ever had on these trails.
If I was going to pull off this route, something needed to change. The Google told me there was a convenience store barely one mile from the northern trailhead. I was almost there and needed a boost.

At the 7th Ave. & Carefree Hwy trailhead.

A cold chocolate milk, ice cream Snickers bar and some food hopefully did the trick. Back at 7th Ave. ready to finish off NoSo.

Lots of snake sightings reported this spring. I hadn't really seen too many, this was maybe no.5?? I really don't mind rattlesnakes, they're cool and let me know they're there. Thanks bud.

I looped around the south side of NoSo via Ocotillo. That was a fun rip with short ups & downs. Here, back on the connection to SoSo.

Back in the heart of SoSo. Making the final climb before heading down to the parking area.
By now I was feeling much better, but my earlier struggles really slowed things down. It was almost 2:30p and I still had a bunch more to ride. Hmmm. It's over an hour drive home too. I really didn't debate it too long, especially after I realized I forgot to bring my cooler for the car!! Gah!! That pretty much sealed it. STD&P - DNF. Jeez, it was only an S x2. Oh well. I'll try again next winter...

Oh yeah, I passed by our friend on the way out. Hello there!! All the photographers had long since disappeared, pretty cool sighting.
This route will happen. I need to be a bit better prepared for the mid-ride resupply that's for sure. In the end it was good to ride the Sonoran Preserves again, it had been way too long.

It wasn't a bad thing cutting the ride short as I was planning on another sizable ride the following day up on the Black Canyon Trail...


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