October 20, 2023

Lemmon Meringue

 I had found a good campsite up near Mt. Bigelow, Andrew & Zack met up with me later that evening. Our plan for the next morning was a ride around the upper trails on Mt. Lemmon. The next morning Zack asked if I heard the skunk that had wondered into camp. I had not in spite of cowboy camping. Come to find out Zack had a two hour ordeal with it around 2a trying to get it to leave camp!! Thankfully, he didn't get sprayed. I slept through the whole thing.

Zack opted to stay back at camp as he was recovering from a bit of dehydration from the AZT800. The record heat wasn't too kind to him in the Canelo Hills. Andrew and I set out from camp. Three of the trails we'd be riding were new to him: Secret, 1918 - both recently re-opened to bikes and Aspen Draw. I was excited to ride 1918 again, this time with some fall color.

We had a short bit of dirt road before reaching Secret trail. It's a relatively quick downhill rip, didn't bother stopping for photos. It dumps you right into 1918 trail.

We were greeted to splashes of color right away.

Then it got real good. Oranges, reds, yellows, similar to the east coast.

Overall, it's a nice trail with only a tricky spot or two.

We then joined Sunset trail, a bit more rideable after some recent trail work.

Great views not seen from the Catalina Hwy.

The pools were running low near the headwaters of Sabino Creek.
We rolled through Summerhaven and began the climb up to Aspen Draw. We made a quick out-n-back on the first bit of Red Ridge so Andrew could see the beginning of it and the view from the top.

Red Ridge trail. Singletrack to the edge of the Earth.

Next up: Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley.

Fall was definitely in the air here.

Huge valley views from the top. The desert floor looked hot from here and we wondered how the AZTR riders were faring in the heat of day 2.

There's a short dirt road connector to Aspen Draw, which begins near the top of the chair lift.

Andrew enjoying the dirt and roots.

It's such a fun trail with good flow most of the way down.

Red leaves are more rare here in AZ, but not on Mt. Lemmon.

My SSP posing for the fall calendar.

Such a beautiful time of year for this ride.
Aspen Draw brings you right back to Summerhaven. We made our way back towards Mt. Bigelow via the Catalina Hwy. On our way up the dirt road to camp we were riding through the 1918 trailhead right about the same time an AZTR rider was about to pass through. We decided to wait.
Alex Stephan, and ITT rider wraps up the Secret trail.
We asked him what he thought about the Lemmon Pusch route, his answer: Don't ask me now!! Ha! Other than that he seemed eager to get to Summerhaven and resupply. We made the short climb back to camp to finish out the ride.

I believe this route is known as the Lemmon Meringue route, could be wrong, but it sounds good. Give it a try when the desert temps are too high. There is plenty of riding up on Mt. Lemmon in cool temps.


October 19, 2023

Redington Rd. - Upper Tanque Verde Trail

 Sometime last year I heard about a short trail that parallels Redington Rd down on the east foothills area of Mt. Lemmon. I rode it and really enjoyed it, so much so, that it was added to the AZTR route. The section I rode was only a mile long though. Around the same time another buddy rode the upper portion of the trail in the downhill direction. I thought I should at least check it out going uphill, maybe it too was worth adding in spite of my buddy saying it wasn't. I always say that I'll ride anything once. It's the only surefire way for me to know if a trail is truly crap or not.

I was already down in the area as the AZTR kicked off this morning. I had planned to stay in Tucson for a day or two, camping up on Mt. Lemmon since the valley was scorching hot under a late October heatwave. Of course I didn't get over to Redington Rd until 2p. Read: 100ยบ I wasn't too concerned since the total ride was around 4 miles. Let's go!!

I parked at the bottom of the known good trail, might as well ride something I know I'll like to get started.

Aka: Redneckington Pass #pewpew

Soon after this sign, the road is dirt, look for the first pullout on the left. Trail begins from the parking lot.

Yeah, it's nice.

One of the smallest Saguaros I've ever seen.

About 3/4 mile up the trail, look for a lesser used trail on the left. That is, if you're dumb like me. Spoiler alert: Ride down this trail!!!

Started out with great anticipation...

That was squashed quickly.

Must be quite the sight when flowing.

Remnants from the past.

The trail wasn't too rideable over most of it.

This rock face was difficult to get over.

Old Taylor Tank Dam.

Built by The Scorpion?? Sept. 17, 1953.

Cool bridge feature leading to a steep roller. It was here when I thought this trail would be fun to ride down.

The trail eventually tops out on Redington Rd at the top of the switchbacks.

From here, it was an easy cruise back down to the car in the heat.

If I were to ride this again, I would stage at the same location, ride the good part of the trail up to the split, stay right. That will lead you to Redington Rd. below the switchbacks, ride up the road and get on the trail at the large sign pictured two photos above. Ride the trail all the way back down. In total it's only about 4 miles, so not a destination worthy ride by any means, but if you're in the area, check it out.


October 14, 2023

Picketpost: Around the Mountain

 The AZTR was rapidly approaching. Friends were arriving to get heat acclimated from all over. My friend, Thomas, was in from Switzerland, back in AZ for the second time this year after riding the Queen's Ransom in the spring. He enjoyed it so much, he vowed to come back for the AZT800. The Strempke's were also in town, camping over by Picketpost. I had a package of theirs, Katie's new fork that she'd need for the ride. Might as well hand deliver them and go for a ride.

I picked up Thomas on my way and met up with Andrew and Katie near the trailhead. We planned on a loop around Picketpost Mtn. taking the most direct path, not necessarily the most rideable path!!

I remembered to bring a pair of eclipse viewing glasses as the annular eclipse started while we got ready to roll.

Heading out towards Picketpost trailhead.

Katie dropping into Arnett Canyon.

The views never cease down here.

Thomas enjoying his time in the desert.

Katie practicing her catclaw avoidance technique.

Andrew cruising on the singlespeed. If you need bikepacking bags, check out his brand: Dispersed Bikepacking

Spectacular riding in Arnett Canyon.

Some remnants from the Telegraph Fire. Photo by Thomas.

Into the muted light we go. Photo by Thomas.

Towering rock formations and giant Cholla. Photo by Thomas.

Since Andrew & Katie hadn't been up this side canyon, we made the out-n-back spin. Yours truly near the top. Photo by Thomas.

Time to head back down.

It's worth the detour if you haven't been.

Photo by Katie.
We rejoined the main trail and continued east for a bit. We took the first split to the south on the Telegraph Canyon trail, not to be confused with Telegraph Canyon Rd. I warned the others about the high probability of not only hike-a-bike, but route finding and bike carrying!! The trail didn't disappoint. It starts off with some rideable technical bits, then gets progressively worse...
Tight boulder squeeze here.

We passed some hikers earlier who warned us of the trail conditions, but I'll have to admit I was surprised to see horses back here. We had a heck of a time crawling through the overgrowth to reach this point.

Into the jungle they go!! The spring was flowing, hence all the vegetation.
Shortly after passing the horses, the area opens up a bit and we joined Telegraph Canyon Rd. We were only on that for maybe a mile or less. There's a side trail that connects to the AZT at its earliest junction.

Katie disappears down the trail. Weaver's Needle on the horizon.

Can you find all 3 riders?

All downhill from here!! Photo by Katie.

Andrew crushing the singlespeed. Photo by Thomas.

Not to be outdone, Katie loaded up her bikepacking gear in preparation for the impending AZT800 in a few days...singlespeed style. Photo by Thomas.

I'm just cruising with gears. :) Photo by Thomas.

Thomas was stoked to have some riding pals!!

Final bit into the trailhead.

It was great to get another ride in with Thomas. Perhaps one day, he can give me a tour around Switzerland.

There is water by the windmill outside of the trailhead. FYI.
If you want to do a loop around Picketpost without the headache of the Telegraph Canyon trail, stay on the Arnett Canyon trail heading east. You'll connect to Telegraph Canyon Rd. farther down that where we popped out. It's still rugged, but a bit more rideable.