October 21, 2022

Mt. Lemmon: Sky Island Loop

 It was now day 2 of the Arizona Trail Race and I had camped in the Rincon Valley with Scott, Eszter & Katie. The girls had planned to get some race photos of the incoming women for The Town Bicycle while Scott and I headed up Mt. Lemmon to ride in the cool autumn weather. We weren't trying to find racers, but we thought we may cross paths with one or two.

We staged at the upper Green Mtn. trailhead and noticed how Incinerator Ridge rises abruptly between the buttes.

After a few pavement miles, we found dirt.

I don't know what all the fuss about Sunset trail is...

It gets more spicy as you go...and then you walk...downhill.

Fantastic views though.

Quite the relaxing scene.

Making our way through Summerhaven, signs of autumn begin to pop.

We took the dirt connector to Ski Run Rd.

Glowing aspens as the trail ends at the ski resort.

If you've never been here in October, it's hard to believe this is southern Arizona!!

Looking north towards Oracle Ridge. The lead racers would be tackling it shortly. PeakFinder app.

Spotted a deer downslope of the parking lot.

The snow will be flying soon.

Taking in the views atop the Lemmon. This is where bad ideas are born. When do we start?

Looking SE over the Tucson desert floor. PeakFinder app.

We heard some commotion coming up behind us, Stefanie McDaniel (Pivot factory rider) & Tara Alcantara (HomeGrown Shuttles) were out doing hot laps on Aspen Draw. Great seeing these two amazing riders out ripping!!

We were on more of a photo tour!!

Tight squeeze.
We made our way back down to Summerhaven and the obligatory stop at the Cookie Cabin. Pizza, cookies and root beer floats?? Sure. We noticed the AZT300 leader, Alex Schultz, was in town getting some food at the grille up the street. The second place rider, Will Bodowes, was almost to town. So we sat roadside enjoying our feast waiting for Will to pedal by.

We yelled at Will, root beer floats in hand, but he was on mission to reach the general store.

Over at the general store we caught up with Wyatt Spalding, he was covering the AZTR in general for Bikepacking.com. He has two great posts published: Part 1 & Part 2.

Will in feast mode with a tub of potato salad. Mmmm.

What's this?? A new bike shop in Summerhaven. Cool.

It's very small, but seems to have the necessities.

There's a work stand on the side of the building too. Nice touch.

The bike shop is only part of this tiny hut.

Mt. Bigelow doesn't seem too far away.

A little bit of pavement and some nice dirt road riding got us to the top. Now, singletrack!!

The other side of Oracle Ridge where I'm sure both Alex & Will were pushing their bikes.

Upper Kellogg Trail is dreamy.

Glimpses to the valley below.

This section is a bit more steep than it looks, but sure is fun.

We exited the singletrack after Kellogg Trail, I wasn't quite feeling up to Incinerator Ridge.

We spotted the current AZT800 leader, Andy Wentzel, climbing the highway.

A few miles down the road, Jefe Branham pulled over to chat. He was running in second place. He and Andy would swap positions in Summerhaven and stay that way until the end.

We picked up dinner burritos and saw a few dots at the Rocking K Market. Here, another 800 rider, Corey Kronser.

300 rider, Eddie Urcadez.

800 rider, David Jensen.
It was cool to run into all the racers out there since we hadn't planned on seeing anyone. Scott & I liked our plan, ride high in the cool pines while the racers sweltered in the valley below. Haha. This may become tradition. We'll see, but it sure makes for a fun ride regardless.


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