I’m cooked. Not baked or fried, but I think I pedaled in the blazing sun long enough today that I could be considered human jerky. My lips are cracked and bleeding, my eyes are bloodshot and my arms and face are tanned to the color of a piece of perfectly cooked bacon. Needless to say, it was an amazing ride!
The idea came to me Saturday while I was cruising the intertubes at work trying to look busy. It appeared that Black Canyon Trail system that D2 wrote about is now complete. 79 miles of singletrack cutting right through the central Arizona desert finishing on the north end of Phoenix. It was clear that it was my duty to go ride the entire thing, and do it soon before it gets too hot. If I could arrange some way to get dropped off at the northern end, I could pedal the whole trail and then I could just ride home. I made a couple phone calls and within 15 mins my ride to the start was arranged. One quick facebook message to Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance for some more trail details and it was a done deal. My buddy Erick decided he wanted to ride the first day with me and jumped in the car with about an hour notice.
My friend Maximum was kind enough to drop us off (thanks for the ride, amigo!) at the wide spot in the road knows as Mayer, AZ. There is no established trailhead yet so I had to go off some vague clues I had from an email.
“Go to the mile marker, backtrack a quarter mile and look for an abandoned orchard. The trail will be on the uphill side of the orchard”
Turns out what I thought were vague directions were actually spot on and we found the trail pretty easily. While meandering through the orchard we came across an old printer and decide to have our own Office Space moment with it. Arizona style.
Once we found the trail, the riding was superb. This entire trail system is perfect contour, bench cut singletrack, by the book. The amount of work that went into building these trails is mind blowing. I owe each and every member of this trail crew a round and a high five. Well done.
At one point we were grinding up this doubletrack climb and I mentioned “I sure hope some singletrack comes up soon”. No sooner did the words leave my mouth then we turn the corner and see this (note line of trail in the middle of the picture):
We both say “WOW” in disbelief when we saw where the trail was about to take us. From where we stood with our mouths open, there was trail running across every ridge as far as the eye could see. For 3 more hours we rode those trails before we reached Erick’s car and went our separate ways. He had to go back to the “real world” and me, further into the desert. I made camp at dark and stayed awake just long enough to cook some food over a nice little fire
When I awoke the next morning one thing was very clear, it was going to be hot. The sun hadn’t been up more than 20 mins and I was already sweating while breaking down camp. I threw back a cold cup of instant coffee, a couple handfuls of trail mix and I was on my way. I had previously ridden everything from here on in and I was well aware of the large amount of climbing ahead. I needed to get that over with before the sun got too high, but not before having to cross a nice refreshing little river.
There was singletrack for many more hours
When I finally hit civilization I treated myself to the best reward known to any bike tourer
I heard it hit 90 degrees today. If you were on the trail at noon and asked me what temperature was, my answer would probably be 110. I roasted in the sun and just turned out the miles until it was done. Just under 80 miles of dirt followed by about 35 miles of road to get home made for a great ride. This would be where I would post a map of my ride if I had one of those fancypants GPS things, but I don’t. You will just have to take my word on it. It was an amazing experience and I feel very fortunate to have such an amazing trail system so close to my home. I would encourage you to kill some time at the office and find your own little overnight adventure. There is something pretty cool about carrying everything you need with you, sleeping in the dirt, and riding more miles than you think you can.
Long live long rides. Keep it dirty…by