In Arizona there are only four hours out of each day that you cannot find a place to belly up at the bar. Currently last call is at 2am, and the best dives open again at 6am. During the summer those four hours also happen to be the coolest of the day. Coincidentally, if you want to get an enjoyable ride in right now you’re either going out well after sunset or setting an alarm for o’dark thirty. Seeing that the gap in drinking hours overlaps the best riding time of the day, a great bad idea was born.
And that idea was simple. Assemble at the neighborhood clubhouse at midnight and see how much damage we could do in two hours. When Justin tells us we can drink no more, we set off for South Mountain. Ride a solid loop on Mormon/National and then head for the morning bar just after sunrise. I put out the bait and waited to see who would bite at this one. It was understandably difficult for some to get hall passes from the wife and children as this isn’t necessarily the most wholesome activity I suppose. But alas last weekend I lured Nebraska Scott and Jolly Rogers from Back of the Pack to join me.
Beforehand I spent most of Saturday’s daylight with Dan after Dirty extracted him from his SS win at the Tour Divide the night before. He called me up around noon looking for someone to drink with. And there was no way I could turn down someone who had spent the previous 21 days riding from Canada. His hands too sore to grip a handlebar, we wandered the streets of Tempe drinking whiskey and eating tacos until sunset. He shared some stories from the journey, but it was far too soon for him to grasp the full reality of the ride. Somewhere around the 3rd bar I could feel the wheels coming loose. Dan turned to me and said: “Just in case you need to know, my lawyer is speed dial #7. He goes by The Jeffery.” Soon after, I delivered him back to Dirty’s house and made my way home to prep for the impending overnight shitshow.
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I caught about 90 minutes of sleep thinking it might help refresh things before diving back in. Not so much. I met with Scott and Jolly just after midnight and we got down to business. My buddy Justin behind the bar knew what we were up to and didn’t let us off easy. Several pints, two or three shots of whiskey each, and we were well lubed up to ride.
Fortunately there’s a quik mart across the street that’s flexible in their judgment of liquor laws, so we were able to grab a 6′er for the road.
It’s about five miles of street to the trailhead, but without traffic, the broiling sun, or sobriety, it wasn’t too bad of a cruise.
We aimed up Mormon trail which is almost entirely uphill to where it connects with National. We stopped towards the top and cracked one of those Dale’s and enjoyed the view of our fair city.
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Turning back downhill on National trail we started to get some light in the sky. It really was quite spectacular. Say what you will about Phoenix, but the fact that we can leave the bar and roll a technical trail at pre-sunrise five miles from home is pretty awesome. The liquid courage was flowing pretty good by this point so we stopped and took a couple runs at some of the trickier sections that would normally trip me up.
Below National we climbed up to the top of Javelina trail for another beer stop before the descent back to town. At this point the sun was almost ready to crack the horizon, and the hikers and runners were starting to come out of the woodwork. As the first few passed by us we noticed that we were having entirely too much fun. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We felt all good and sane in our little trio, but with the presence of fitness folk we realized that drinking whiskey on the trail at sunrise might be startling to some. We assured them that we’re professionals and if anything, they should join us.
We rolled down Javelina back into the city and made our way towards our go-to morning bar, Yucca Tap. On the way we rolled through an old neighborhood of mine and figured it would be fun to reminisce on the playground.
When we left the first bar at 2am I told Justin where we’d be whenever he wrapped up. And he remembered. So we were met by an equally stoked group of morning drinkers.
We put on a good show for all the passers by, some in their Sunday best. We no doubt got a few weird looks like anyone would when they’re on a dive bar patio just after 6am on a Sunday. But for us there’s a very thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning. From there the day got a little fuzzy around the edges. But I can tell you that waking up with a slight hangover at 6pm is an interesting sensation.
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There’s no doubt in my mind that this ride will be repeated again in the very near future. I can’t think of a better way to spend the wee hours of the day. Can’t hit the bar? Go for a ride. Super hot during the day? Fuck it, roll at 2am.