March 7, 2022

Queen's Ransom '22

 This year marked the 9th running of the Queen's Ransom bikepacking route that I host from my house. It's crazy to think how this has developed over the years. This year was a bit different as back in December the route went public on!! Pretty cool to get a personal route published for the masses to enjoy. I had to make a few changes to the route for public consumption, namely not starting from my house!! They also won't have the luxury of SAG stops along the way, only the commercial establishments anyone can resupply at. I also decided after the 2020 edition (2021 was cancelled) that I'd set a rider limit and went with 25. That number is for riders who plan on the entire loop camping with the group, not day riders, partial route riders or anyone who plans to ride the loop straight through. Night 2 is a bit limited on size and frankly 25 is more than enough. I don't want to herd cats.

Our route, going clockwise from left of the logo. 228 miles, 16k of gain over 4 days/3 nights.

I created a registration form and posted it one month prior to our start. It filled in 25 minutes. Crazy. I had a feeling it would fill very quick since it had taken a year hiatus and with the larger internet audience. The pressure was ON to deliver the goods!! Not really, since I knew the route would take care of that.

I had a few friends step up and offer assistance in a variety of ways. John & Jennifer graciously offered to open their garage for the group early on day 1 with coffee, donuts, bacon & whiskey if that's your jam. Chris and Duane had planned to drive out to camp 1 with some refreshments for the group, Nik who was fresh off the Bikepacking 101 ride offered to help with a swag item and made QR keychains to hand out, Scott once again hosted the route on Trackleaders for anyone who wanted to carry a tracker for family & friends to follow along, George & Jalene came out to the main SAG stop hosted by my wonderful wife, K, lending us a larger table so K had plenty of room for all the goodies. So, before the ride report gets going: THANK YOU!!!

Nice looking start to the day in spite of the chance of rain in the forecast.
Of course I jinxed the weather by posting a screenshot of the forecast about a week prior to the start. Right at the last minute things shook up and showers were in our future late on day 1 & day 2 with a good dose of wind, but that appeared it may be a tailwind or crosswind. We'll find out!!

Friday morning arrived and I had actually been ready to go since midday Thursday!! No late night cramming/packing for once!! That was really nice as I could help everyone get settled and checked in as they arrived. I shoot to start the ride at 7a, but I was a bit slow getting the group shot rounded up and we got going around 7:10a or so.

What a crew!! 
27 at the start including myself. We had one day rider, Stephen, who would ride home after some 87 miles, two through riders - Dylan from Flagstaff (back row, third from the right as this was his only pic!!) and Brandon from Atlantic Beach, FL. My friend, Kelly, would be joining us late on day 1 and complete the ride from there. Some other notables were Hannes, from Berlin, Germany!! He finished the Fool's Loop the day before too!! If you're going to hop across the globe, get your monies worth. Jason was in from S. Dakota, Aaron from Wyoming, Justin from Colorado, Emily, Evan, Chris & Dave all from California and everyone else from somewhere in Arizona.
Rolling the train out of the neighborhood.

Barely a mile into the route and we're on the greenbelt.

The first 20+ miles are flat and fast, but there are streets to cross during rush hour, so pay attention!! Heck, we even got flipped off by a driver for no reason as we were on the side of the road waiting to cross, must've been pissed he had to work!!
We made it to the Desert Trails bike park in Mesa after about 2 hours of riding. It's a good spot to grab some early calories, make a restroom pitstop, shed layers and play on the skill park features!! This was also a good time to snap a pic of everyone individually with their setup. Roll call!!

Jeff Z. aka The Curmudgeon.

Dave W. from CA.

Mike Sy. local west sider.

Aaron D. from WY.

Ken O. another local.

Brian C. local.

Nancy G. local and the better half of the Curmudgeon!!

Jason T. from SD.

Steven S. local.

Hannes N. from Berlin, Germany.

Emily E. from CA.

Jeffrey S. from Tucson.

Brandon F. from FL.

Day rider & local, Stephen B.

Zach T. local.

Bret P. local.

Justin M. from Tucson.

Ronald J. local.

Justin D. from CO.

Mike W. local and a Traveling Salesman bud!!

Robert L. himself, local.

Evan S. from CA.

Gerrit M. local.

Mike So. local.
Kelly R. local (She joined the route in Gold Canyon & finished from there)

Me, myself & I.

Our first trail!! TRW on our way over to Hawes.

Notice the slideout casualty in the background on the first turn!! Whoa!! Down goes Hannes, he was fine.

Mike & Justin on a red rock section of Hawes.

Hawes tree stump meeting point.
We made a short climb up and out into the Las Sendas neighborhood where we'd continue to climb and stop for refreshments at John & Jennifer's place. Ken was having some real issues with his shifting as it constantly would jump something like 5 gears. It didn't seem like a trailside fix, but luckily we were only a couple miles from the nearest bike shop. I gave him directions to Hawes House Bike Shop (Formerly Two Wheel Jones) to see if he could get a quick fix and rejoin the route even if he had to cut out a portion. I continued up the hill pretty much in sweeper mode.

The party was going when I arrived, mimosas and peanut butter whiskey? Sure.

Everyone was digging it, but I had to remind them we still had over 40 miles to go!!
Jennifer was at work, so John had to hold down the fort for us and did a stellar job. Well done and thanks again!! John did the ride with us in 2020.

We rejoined the Hawes trails near the upper portion of the system. Downhill awaits!! I love the Magic Mtn. trail as it's a good warmup to some technical riding. I was reminded a couple trails later as we did some climbing on Secret, that perhaps our Traveling Salesman route a week prior may not have been the best taper ride. My legs were feeling it and I was a slug on the uphills.

Jeffery catches up at the bottom of one of the steeper pitches leading to Twisted Sister.
The route uses the Twisted Sister trail all the way around and down to Wild Horse trail, but since the last running of the QR, a new flow type of trail has been built about halfway down Twisted Sister called Big Sister. I told everyone about it and said they should try it out as it ties directly into the route at Wild Horse. I had a few riders with me as we hit the junction of Big Sister.

Evan flying around a lower turn on Big Sister.

Mike prepares for takeoff.

Aaron couldn't wipe the grin off his face!!
Big Sister was a hit and most of the riders took it. It'll be part of the official route going forward. I continued to struggle on the climbs as we made our way across Wild Horse to High Noon. So, I called an audible since the mid-section of High Noon has some steeper grades than Wild Horse. There are a couple of short social connectors between High Noon & Wild Horse that essentially cut High Noon into thirds. I simply cut out the middle third. Brilliant!! It'll also be part of the route going forward.

While down on my Wild Horse shortcut I ran into Renee & Donovan who I rode with a few days ago!! I met Renee back in 2016 while we raced the Maah Daah Hey100 in North Dakota. Small world.

Dave making his rounds.

Chris was back for a second go at the QR, his first was back in 2015, with Evan, who was also here for his second go. In 2015 it was only the three of us doing the ride, a lot has changed since then.
As I reached the NRA pit area I noticed my track wasn't correct. What the?? I must've grabbed an old file by mistake as I had intended to climb Maricopa Madness not Lance's Trail. Oh well.

Steady climbing towards Pass Mtn.
The track also didn't have the route going up the new Rattler trail. The whole point of that was to avoid riding up a sandy wash. I took Rattler, but knew the others would take the sand route following the track. As I neared the top of Rattler I could see Brandon hike-a-biking up the sand while I pedaled along on Rattler. Hehe.

Brandon and I meeting at the top of Rattler. He thought he was off-route when he saw me, but I explained what happened and he laughed it off.
A fun downhill ensues along the west side of Pass Mtn. to a trailhead with restrooms and water. It's a good spot for lunch as it's about 40 miles into the day. A few other riders were already there. It's nice to regroup every so often. Lunch was calling and I downed half of my burrito in hopes it would kickstart my legs.

I saw this sign in a photo on and couldn't quite place where it was. Found it!!

Chainfruit trail and visual flight rules on the mountainside.

A splash of sun illuminates Pass Mtn.
The clouds were building and it was now looking like the rain forecast may actually come to fruition.

I rode a bit with Emily & Evan as we cruised through Usery Mtn. Park towards the Goldfield Mtns.
As soon as we hit pavement the rain began to fall. We all donned our rain jackets at the trailhead, then the rain stopped. Of course it did. The Meridian Trail is some work, but the views are killer and it sure beats riding on clapped out horse trails and miles of roads.

Emily nears the top of the first of two climbs.
We peeled off on the lesser traveled Ironwood Crossing trail. A slightly off-camber, loose, semi-steep, narrow, rutted trail. Hold on!! I was able to ride it all the way down to the crappy wash crossing. Emily had noted how the rocky sections of trail were giving her a bit of issue since it's mostly smooth where she typically rides. I looked back up Ironwood Crossing to see if I could locate her, I found her and she was riding that mess of a trail!! Hell yeah!! Evan and I pushed on ahead to the next saddle after a good bit of hike-a-bike.

Not a bad view from here.

Fantastic view of the Superstition Mtns.
I had received a text earlier in the day from a retired buddy who leads trailwork days in the area. He informed me they wrapped up a wash re-route that I was approaching and I should look for the fresh trail. I found it and was pleased to note the wash crossing was now all rideable.
I began to separate from Emily and Evan as the Goldfields neared, my legs were waking from the dead!!

Our route goes more to the right of the Superstitions, the less dark side.

A favorite spot of mine in the Goldfields made more special by the lighting.

I caught up with Brandon & Hannes and helped guide them through a few tricky areas along the way.
As we exited the Goldfields we had to dodge a mess of squatter camps. It was nuts, I had maybe seen two vehicles in this particular location over the years, but today there were over a dozen.

Crossing over SR88 and into the Lost Dutchman area which means the Jacob Crosscut Trail is on deck.

Hannes and Steven surrounded by Cholla.

The Jacob Crosscut Trail starts innocently enough, it's a dirt sidewalk!!
As you leave the comforts of the Lost Dutchman State Park area the trail abruptly narrows and large rocks encroach, grabbing, poking, trying to knock you off your line. I love the way it rides now. It's a good challenge and fun to see how many dabs you make along the way. I had at least a half dozen, well off my one-dab record!!

I mentioned to the fellas a good photo opportunity was approaching. I rode ahead and caught everyone as they passed by the towering cliffs with Flat Iron on center stage.

Brandon was up first.

Then Hannes followed.

Evan came through as the sun peeked out.

Evan returned the favor for me. Thanks!

A half mile plus of downhill babyhead surfing brought me here, the end of the Jacob Crosscut Trail.
Mike was up ahead and we rode the short bit of pavement to a new singletrack connection I found last year. It's no more than a series of horse trails, but they ride surprisingly well and get you off a couple miles of shoulderless roadway. Win.

Not bad for a horse trail, eh?
I was nearing some powerlines in a corridor flanked by head-high bushes when a rider's Kelly!! She made it!! She told me how she sat in her car for 20 minutes while it rained, debating whether or not to start riding. She made the right choice. This would be her first bikepack in almost 5 years and her longest ride to date. I had no doubt she could do it, she's a strong rider, but rides like this also take a mental toll. Was she ready for that? Time will tell.

We've done a few silly adventures over the years!!
Daylight was fading, but we were now in the final stretch leading to Gold Canyon and dinner at the shopping center. We both agreed to just grab Subway and be on our way up to camp. I needed a quick bit of calories after making a steady push from Usery. Other than being a little hungry I was now feeling good. I guess I needed a 40 mile warm-up!!

I 'may' have mentioned that camp was only 4 miles from the shopping center. Oops, more like 8. It was dark when we left the shopping center and when we returned to the trail it seemed to go on & on & on. We finally arrived at camp where most everyone was already there. My buddy Chris and Duane drove their truck in and had a cooler of ice cold beers and tacos if anyone was still hungry. Talk about service!! That cold brew was so refreshing after our 76 mile day.

A short while later the final riders arrived, everyone was accounted for. I heard from Ken about his shifting issue, it couldn't be resolved today, so he'd try to rejoin the group for camp 3.

Not long after I settled into my bivy a shower passed over. It was a good thing I packed it.

Day 1 was in the books. It's a tough, long day at 76 miles and around 6,000' of gain. Day 2 doesn't get any easier, so rest up!!

Queen's Ransom Day 1 Route Flyover via

Camp 1 overview the next morning.
People were stirring before daybreak, but I like to stay put in my sleeping bag at least until I no longer need a headlamp. I ate breakfast and began packing up. Kelly and I would end up riding most of the next two days together, she was going super light - like no sleeping pad light and was ready to go fairly quick. We were some of the first ones to break camp on day 2, but I knew we'd see a bunch of folks during the day. It wasn't too far from Gold Canyon to our next resupply in Queen Valley.

Kelly starting the Micro Moab section in Gold Canyon. Begins with a hard right up & over...

...loops around a Palo Verde tree and finishes on this rock slab roll.

Ronald joins the fun in Micro Moab land.

Great photo spot on Phantom trail. Kelly drops in.

This is what I get when I hand my phone to Kelly for my pic. Hike-a-bike!! Ha!

Ahh, that's better.

Justin coming through.

Ronald's turn.

Gerrit rounding out the group.
We exited the singletrack of Gold Canyon and began the mid-section of the day mostly on jeep roads and a little bit of pavement. I'm glad we don't have to ride much of Peralta Rd. as it's always busy on a Saturday morning with hikers heading out to the Superstition Wilderness and Weaver's Needle.

Ran into this crew off Gold Rush Rd. A co-worker from Fluke, Tom on the left and Scott & Adrienne who came out during my massive Maricopa Trail bikepack with goodies.

Nancy & Jeff catching us at the State Trust gate.

What's up, Zach?

We had a nice group for the miles leading to Queen Valley.

The Store is still open!! Google shows the Fitz Stop as permanently closed, it only changed ownership and seems to be better stocked these days. The taco stand didn't open until 11a and we didn't want to wait around. Superior was our next resupply and again, wasn't too far.

Leaving Queen Valley there's a short stretch of pavement before turning on Hewitt Station Rd. It's a popular OHV route and shooting area, aka Gunsmoke Alley. The target shooters were out in force, more than I typically see and one guy was kinda shooting downrange of the road. I think we were all happy to get through the area quickly.
Cruising along a quieter piece of Hewitt Station Rd.

FS172 offers some amazing views to the north.

We leapfrogged with Steven a bit through here.

Circle K in Superior was a hopping place, it always is.
Note to self: There are picnic tables and empty trash cans on the east side of Circle K!! The trash cans out front were overflowing and the west side of the building didn't really have a place to sit other than the curb. Plus, the route goes through the east side area behind the dumpsters, drops through a wash and joins the L.O.S.T. (Legends of Superior Trail) behind the Circle K.

Yeah we're still in the desert. LOST. (See above)

A short rubbly climb up a jeep road leads you here: the beginning of Arnett Canyon. Wowzers.

Since the Telegraph Fire and subsequent floods last year, Arnett Canyon was is fantastic shape.

Arnett Creek still flowing a bit.

It's a popular equestrian route too, look at these beauties.

Kelly climbing out of Arnett Canyon as we're about to join the Arizona Trail, AZT.
We were looking good on time for reaching camp in daylight. 'Only' 12 miles to go...but 10 of them are uphill. Just keep moving and we'll get there.

A sun soaked Picketpost Mtn.

When you need a break, lay in the dirt.
We were taking a snack break here and a steady stream of riders came through.

Bret, who I'm sure cracked a joke as he passed by.

Steven who was getting redemption from his first QR where he either arrived late to camp or stopped early. So far, so good!!

Jeffrey, the self-proclaimed last guy out of camp each morning, yet still arrived to camp before most. Strong.

Mike & Zach either looking at how much we've climbed or how much remains.

The first major overlook about halfway to camp 2.

Fun contouring trail through here and a large green unburnt hillside covered in Saguaro.

We reached Telegraph Canyon Rd. where a bunch of tents were set up. Found out it was a crew of trail workers doing tread work and adding drains over the next couple of miles.

Picketpost Mtn. grows distant and small as we climb the first of two bigger pitches.

Getting close now!! Camp 2 is at the tiny notch left of center. One down & one up remaining.

Pinal Peak rises to the east.

Camp 2: ATA Rain Collector. There were a few hikers also camping out here, hope they didn't mind the company!!
It was fairly windy, so no campfire on this night which was a bit of a bummer. Most people gathered around the rain collector as a wind shield while Mike So. broke out a bevy of large chips he had carried up the hill. It was quite impressive and he had a block of Dubliner cheddar cheese!!

The riders kept arriving and a few came in after dark. It was cool to see their LEDs pop over the previous climb. We could watch the lights dance through the valley on the final mile approach to camp. We did get word that Hannes was going to camp down in the valley, barely a mile from us. Sounded like he had a tough day crashing into not only a Prickly Pear cactus, but also a Cholla!! Welcome to Arizona riding!!

Queen's Ransom Day 2 Route Flyover via

The pic above was taken in the evening, this pic was the following morning. Almost identical conditions.
While out taking care of my morning business, I noticed the gpx track had us staying on the jeep road, looping around the hill next to camp to the AZT. The jeep road was insanely steep and loose, not a good fit for bikepacking. So I made sure to tell everyone to backtrack the 0.1 miles we came in to camp and hop on the AZT before going through the gate. It's much more rideable. Yet another slight tweak to the gpx track I needed to make.

Ahh, Martinez Canyon. Amazing anytime you're here, but morning light is quite nice.
The only real bummer was we were riding almost exclusively in the shade and it was cold!! I was having a hard time keeping my hands warm and Kelly was struggling to do the same. The stinging / burning sensation is so uncomfortable and painful. Emily had some slightly used hand warmer packets she passed along, but it was Justins gloves that almost instantly did the trick for Kelly's hands. Mine were beginning to warm up and we could start to really enjoy our surroundings.

Such an amazing place to ride a bike.

Ahhh, sunlight and a bit of warmth.

Beginning the 7 mile, 2,000' descent to the Gila River.

What a scene!!

 Hard to believe, but this was Kelly's first time on this entire stretch of AZT!!

Another classic photo op!! Dale's Butte and Bret.

Kelly & Bret were flyin' through here, glad I caught them!!

Aaron really digging the non-race pace action.

Low point of the entire AZT, 1,646'.
I met up with Brandon here and knowing that he was aiming to finish tonight in order to catch a 6a flight back to Florida the next morning, I offered up a shortcut. He could ford the Gila River and rejoin the route up on Cochran Rd. It would save him about 30 miles or so, but he decided he wanted to see all of the route - at least the cool stuff out here, and stuck with the route. All-in as they say.
Jeff & Nancy coming through the notch.

The Gila River can only be seen a handful of times and isn't really accessible except for near the bottom of the long descent. Apparently, there's another access point along the 16 mile stretch to Kelvin, but I must've missed the sign. 

I had stopped to shed layers and my long socks as it was now comfortable out. A few riders passed by and I was on my way after a few minutes.
Looking north towards the White Canyon Wilderness.

Jeffrey slowing down pro-style for the photo op!!!

Sure do love the trail down here.

Jason passing through as we stop for snacks.

The sight of the train trestle only means one thing: Dale's Demoralizer is coming!!
It's a Strava segment I created way back when that notes the final climb along the Gila River before reaching Kelvin. It's a butt kicker and I often walk a lot of it. Today was no exception. I did watch in amazement as Kelly rode a ton of it. Has to be that light bike of hers...and all that power!!

A little slice of shade between gates, then climb away.

At the top!!

The ASARCO Ray mine. It's massive. Copper has to come from somewhere.
There was a good sized group of riders collected at the ADOT water spigot in Kelvin. We all were ready to reach the SAG stop, but we had a bunch of climbing to get done first. Still had two more miles of AZT before reaching the graded dirt road of the Florence-Kelvin Hwy.

The poppies were going off on this section of AZT.

Steven grinding his way up the 4 1/4 mile climb.

Up, up, up we go. The grade isn't necessarily steep, just steady most of the way at roughly 300' per mile.

This sign signals the top of the climb!! Only a half mile or so to the SAG stop.

It was quite the crowd when I arrived and so good to see K.
George & Jalene came out too, lending us a large folding table for all the snacks. The chips & salsa / queso dip were quite popular and the margaritas didn't last too long!! We kicked back for about an hour before some of the folks who had been there for a while decided to roll on to camp 3. I hung out as other riders trickled in.

Brandon, the other through rider had camped with us the first two nights and was staring at a late finish tonight. I think we pretty much talked him into another day and changing his flight to Tuesday.

Queen's Ransom Class of '15 reunion: Chris, Myself & Evan. We joked all weekend how each day we were so much farther along than back then, arriving at every camp in complete darkness.

Group shot with the rest of the later arrivals.
We were still missing Hannes and no one had seen him since camp. Remember, he didn't camp with the group the previous night as he stopped down in the valley about a mile below. He did roll into camp the next morning while a few others were packing up, so he was told to not go down the steep jeep road.

We all helped K get packed up then left as a group to camp 3 around 5:30p. It's mostly downhill over the 12 or so miles and doesn't take too long.

South Butte is the second rise from the right, we'd be camping directly across from it at a spot known as Area 52.

We camped way up in those mountains the previous night.

Chris breaks his chain barely a mile from camp!! Gah!!

Nearing camp 3 as light fades.

This. Right here. It's what it's all about.
I was doing a headcount at camp and noticed Brandon wasn't around. I shot him a text to see if his plans changed. He responded from Florence that it was too expensive to get his flight changed and he'd make the push to finish. He ended up getting back to my place around 1a!! Just in time for his 6a flight home. Yikes!! Note to future riders: Plan on the full 4 days, you won't regret it!!

Meanwhile, I also received a text from K informing me that as she and Jalene were leaving the SAG area, Hannes rolled up!! He was able to retrieve his drop bag and head down to camp. We all kept an eye peeled for his LED and when we saw it started hootin' & hollering for him!! At this point every rider who started, except Ken who had the shifting issue early on day 1, was still in the game!! That itself was absolutely amazing to me.

I also pulled up Dylan's tracker, the other through rider, and told the group he finished the ride sometime around 11:30p last night!! About 40 hours total for the entire loop. Nice work, Dylan, but next time take the leisure tour and hang out with us!! :)

Hannes joins the gang and tells us about his two big navigation errors that costs him about an hour!!

My Google Pixel 6Pro takes really good photos. Setting moon with a few stars.
I opted to simply cowboy camp on this night and would stare at the billion stars until I saw a shooting star before trying to get some shuteye. That took about 3 minutes. Zzzzz....or so we thought.

Sometime around 11:30p the group was startled awake by a very annoyed cow. It was bugling so loud and steady it sounded like a car alarm. It went on & on. We must've been camping in it's path and it was pissed it had to go around. I could hear Robert laughing in his tent and it made me laugh, but the bovine could've ruined someone's night had it stumbled through camp. Eventually I could hear it slowly walk by our camp area, then a second one came by that had a cowbell on. The whole ordeal lasted about 15 minutes and soon after I got some quality zzz's.

Queen's Ransom Day 3 Route Flyover via

Morning campfire FTW!!
It was another cool crisp morning and some people had frost on their gear. My feet were nice and toasty as K brought me my new replacement Goosefeet Gear down socks that arrived after we started. Love those things.

South Butte towers over our camping area.
The day starts with a little bit of sand riding, then a short chunky jeep road up & over to clear Area 52. It's followed by more sand, but it's very rideable and slightly downhill as it nears the Gila River. Most of the day is flat and fast. It's practically a recovery day on the bike!! It's a nice day to wind down three tough days of riding.

Emily approaches a canopy of trees near the Gila River.

Emily, Mike Sy and myself rode the paved miles to Florence together.

Most of us agreed the night before, we don't eat at McD's rarely, if ever, but were all craving a huge calorie binge. Bikes were lined up all morning.
Florence is the last resupply on route and I like to top off my bladder with ice for the final 40 miles. It had turned into a picture perfect day too, clear skies, light breeze and comfortable temps.

The Gila River downstream of the Diversion Dam doesn't often have water, but it did today. The bridge in the photo is under construction to widen it along SR79 and add bike lanes.

Poston Butte outside of Florence. If there's a hillside near a town in AZ, there will be a letter on it.

Nice 2-track riding that parallels the busy Hunt Hwy.

Short bit of canal riding off the Hunt Hwy.

Our small group stuck together for most of the miles leading to San Tan Regional Park.

The smoke plume dominated our view from Florence. Never did find out what was burning.

Short neighborhood connector.

I had a brief panic attack when we rounded the corner and I saw this fence, new since 2020, then Emily spotted the opening on the far side. Whew! No backtracking.
As soon as we linked into the opposite neighborhood road, I noticed fresh pavement and Magma Rd. had been extended all the way out to the Hunt Hwy. For ease of use, we'll just use Magma Rd. instead of the goofy neighborhood connector as they parallel each other.

Chris and Dave getting set to tackle the sand wash at San Tan Park.

One final snack break at the trailhead.
As soon as you enter San Tan Regional Park the trail drops into a sandy wash. Narrow tires and you're walking almost instantly. I was rolling 2.6's and was able to keep spinning most of the way. Rock Peak Wash is about a mile long, not horrible, not great. Just get through it and fun singletrack is the reward.

The famed Shaka Cactus makes an appearance.

The start of the last bit of singletrack on route.

Chris topping out on the Dynamite Trail climb.

2015 selfie!!

Mike Sy. joins the gang.

One last 2015 reunion shot, check out the same shot from 2015 below...

Hey Evan, get a new riding jersey!! Haha!! Can't believe the same shot was taken in the dark back then. The big difference in the route was we used to go up & through Area 52 and I broke my wrist there on this ride. Didn't know it at the time. 2015 was also the first year the ride was done as a 4 day loop.

A 1.8 mile descent on Dynamite Trail to cap things off. Perfect.

Regrouping at Desert Mountain Park before heading to the brewery.
We were short 3 riders, so I tracked down their numbers and asked them to meet us at the brewery. Let's eat!!

Anxious and hungry riders waiting at a traffic light.

We took the entire patio area for our group of 20 or so.

Cheers!! Old Ellsworth Brewing Co. for the beers & good food.
The place was a little busy for a Monday afternoon and not a lot of staff. It took a while to get our order in, but once we did the food arrived quickly. Meanwhile, I made my rounds passing out the swag bag of stickers, patch and keychains made by Nik who was on the Bikepacking 101 ride a couple weeks prior. Thanks Nik!!

Hard earned swag!!

Only a few miles of paved bikepath back to my place from the brewery.

Strava link.

Queen's Ransom Day 4 Route Flyover via

That's a wrap for the 2022 edition and wow, what a fun weekend it was. I want to thank all the riders who took the time to come out and play. I hope it exceeded your expectations and new friends were made. It was cool to see a handful of people show up who didn't know a single other person, especially Hannes who crossed the globe for the ride.

Again, only the one DNF which is remarkable considering the terrain and everything that can and usually does go wrong for a group of riders this large. It was also a testament to how strong this group was top to bottom. Even the few riders who arrived to camp after sunset didn't arrive late and it was great to hang out with everyone.

Another shout out to everyone who helped me pull off this entire weekend: John, Jennifer, Chris, Duane, K, George, Jalene, Scott & Nik. All of your generosity does not go unnoticed. Thank you!!

Mike Sy. put together a really nice recap of his QR experience here.
Jeff Z. had his new GoPro out on route, he's new at this, but there's some cool footage here.

Tentative dates for 2023 are: Friday, March 3 to Monday March 6. Registration will open one month prior, Feb. 3rd at 7a. If you want in and don't want to miss out, either join the Queen's Ransom Bikepack group on Facebook and/or follow on Instagram @queens_ransom_bikepack For those not on social media, I'll also post info on the local Arizona forum here, look for a thread titled Queen's Ransom 2023 or similar next year. Remember, there is a 25 rider limit not including through riders or day riders. Hope to see you out there!!


  1. Hey John, hey everyone! Amazing people and beautiful nature: apart from the cactus encounters I was enjoying every bit of it : ) Thanks a lot for putting it all together and having me joining you!

    1. Hannes,
      So glad you were able to join the group ride!! It was fun riding with you for a bit along the route. I bet you have a bunch of good stories to tell about the Arizona desert!! You're welcome back anytime.