June 1, 2024

Mogollon Rim: FS300 & General Crook

 I had time for one last 'training' ride before I headed north to New Mexico to finish the Tour Divide. What to ride, what to ride?? I wanted a higher elevation route, something fairly pedal friendly too. Rim country came to mind. Why not an out-n-back on the Rim Rd., aka: FS300? Yep, that would do.

I arrived at the FS300 / AZ87 junction north of Pine to 68ยบ temps. Perfect. I typically like to skip the first section of FS300 up & over Baker Butte in favor of FS218 as it undulates less and gets to the rim quicker.

I was riding the Havok, the same bike I rode on the 2019 Tour Divide and the one I'd be finishing the route on. I had swapped out the Jones bars in favor of George's new Ti mid-sweep bars, the Falkens. I also had my Brooks saddle with replaced hardware to test out. Early indications were in: Superb comfort and cockpit feel. This bike was made for this type of riding.

Incredibly clear vista to the south. Love days like this. PeakFinder app.
As I rode along towards the AZT junction, I remembered Igor telling me about some new General Crook singletrack in the area. I figured I'd be on the lookout for it and if it appeared good, I'd hop on. Low and behold I spotted a cairn shortly after passing the AZT.
So far, so good. Really nice singletrack through the forest.

It kept going, crossing over FS300 a few times along the way.

While FS300 wasn't super busy with OHV traffic, this was so much better than competing for real estate on the dirt road.

Hard to believe this trail was running parallel to FS300, never really being more than 1/4 mile away.

Little bit of spice on the trail too.
There was a section of trail that had about a dozen down trees, but I also saw a bunch with fresh cuts. Hopefully the rest of the trail will be cleared soon as it generally rode really well. There was one short hike-a-bike where the General Crook cut a corner climb on FS300. That could be easily skipped in the uphill direction.

I also noticed I missed a section of trail as it sometimes uses FS300. I planned to ride it on the return.
Sometimes the trail was right next to FS300.
I reached the 20 mile mark, the last 8 being solely on the General Crook trail. I didn't immediately notice the singletrack continuing so I opted to turn my ride around there. I'd take FS300 all the way back to the car, except for the section of General Crook I missed.

It's really an amazing ride.

I found the section I missed as it cut through a burn area. There was a fairly steep section leading down towards the AZT that would be hike-a-bike going east.

Crossing over the AZT at the Cabin Loops.

I stayed on FS300 all the way, going up & over Baker Butte. It's so beautiful back here.

Too bad some people have to vandalize everything.
I was doing really good on time and remembered I needed to scout a short section of a route I had put together for the Arizona Endurance Series, AES. As luck would have it, the section I needed to scout was from where I was parked, heading west about two miles to the top of Pine Canyon. I had routed it on some remote two-track and history has told me just because it's on a map doesn't mean it's on the ground.

Happy to report, not only was it on the ground, it also rode quite well.

It also turned into some good singletrack that was also part of the General Crook trail hugging a fenceline, but never crossing it.
Zoom into the far right/east side of the route to see the difference between the General Crook trail and FS300 alignment.

Talk about killing 3 birds with one stone: Training ride, new General Crook trail and an AES route scout. Win, win and win. As a bonus, I felt really good the entire way. I actually feel like my fitness is returning along with some elevation acclimation. Just in the nick of time too. Here I come, New Mexico.

Here is my setup for the New Mexico portion of the Tour Divide, which I'll be resuming on June 8th:
Drive side shot.

Non-drive side. Almost looks like two different bikes.

I'm going to finally earn one of these, along with completing a career Triple Crown of Bikepacking.

You can follow my progress south here: https://trackleaders.com/finishtd24

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