On account of G Donk moving to the land of cheese steaks and William Penn, we decided a farewell ride was in order. Since Flagstaff was now out of the question, we opted to stay local and embarked on a bikepack/overnighter/Lemmon Drop. With Mt. Lemmon topping out at just over 9,000ft, this made for the perfect get away. The plan was to ride out from town and meet some other friends later in the day on top where we’d spend the night and ride all the singletrack down the following day. The trip also served as a shakedown of sorts for my upcoming Cabin Loop bikepacking trip in July. A few things I learned about my bike/gear setup…1) get more gear on the bike, 2) get a seatbag and framebag, 3) learn to sew, 4) tapering for two weeks without riding isn’t always a good idea, 5) I don’t think I need to carry running shoes, 6) take more water than you think you’ll need, and 7) a 30lb. pack sucks on a 29 mile climb. Oh yeah, and gears would probably be nice, too.
An early morning Stans failure pre-departure put us behind schedule, which meant it was going to be hot climbing the road. In any of the other 9 months during the year in this town, riding the road a bit later in the day isn’t a problem. However, when the valley’s hitting triple digit heat it’s best to start riding before sunrise (note to self). The ride up Lemmon provided little shade and Matt was damn near out of water only 6 miles into the climb! Luckily some hikers were nice enough to share, but about 5 miles later we were both running low. While sitting in some shade on the side of the road an MTB’er drove by. I yelled out “got any water?” to which he replied “anyone wearing a DC jersey can have some of my water!” Thanks Vern! You saved us!
We soldiered on, periodically stopping for shade and rolled into Summerhaven hell bent on getting some beer at the Country Store. Apparently, the owner of the store didn’t appreciate me drinking over in the corner by the back of the parking lot. It’s not as if I was standing by the front door or in full sight making an ass out of myself, but regardless my actions didn’t fly and I was properly kicked off the property.
With my rest break cut short it was time to get on with the flogging and pedal a few steep- ass miles to the top of the mountain. Later we met up with some friends who would be camping with us. The next morning we packed up and rolled out, however the sheer awesomeness of my gear setup proved to be too much for my back. Considering what was in store, I decided to leave the bulk of my gear and go light. This was the right decision because as the miles increased, the temp got hotter and my back/taint/legs thanked me.
After the winter months, the mountain was littered with blow down. Luckily for us the Forest Service had been hard at work clearing all the dead fall. Along the way we encountered a turkey and her 10 chics, took in some amazing views and kept it on two wheels. With a group of 5 riders and some technical terrain covered, it’s always a success when you keep it nobbies side down and don’t have any mechanicals.
Shortly after this, Matt and I decided to roll the remaining few miles down the road in lieu of hitting the trail. We still had some miles to cover across town in 108 degree heat, so the cool hot breeze descending the road felt nice. Near the bottom of the mtn, a pickup passed me, but something didn’t seem right…his little camping grill, still hot from cooking food, had shifted during the 20-some mile drive down the mtn and now smoke was billowing from his bed. Close to the shoulder of the road and cruising along at over 35mph with cars beside me I felt it was futile to attempt getting the driver’s attention. I knew we’d see this clown soon enough. Sure as shit, once we hit the base of the mtn, there he was, pulled over on the shoulder, truck bed in flames and smoldering shit strewn about the road. Apparently, this guy either; 1) neglected to properly put out his grill fire BEFORE loading up, 2) wanted to save the half-burnt briquettes, or is 3) a complete dipshit. I’m going with all of the above. In the wake of what happened up in Flagstaff the other week, this jaggoff literally drove his little smoldering fire on wheels down the mtn in which embers could have easily started not one, but MULTIPLE fires along the way. The thought crossed my mind to stop and verbally berate the dipshit, but I figured a burnt car and gear drove the point home. I hope…
The entire pedal home was into a headwind. Not just any headwind, but a 108 degree headwind. The ride was a success and everyone had a damn good time! I’ve got some work to do on the bike setup and will be ready to roll on my next adventure later in July. In the meantime, Adios Matt! You’re off to greener pastures and new adventures! My apologies to those of you with an attention span the size of a gnat who couldn’t sit thru this post. However, for those of you who’d like to see a little more of the pictoral essay, CLICK HERE.