I come up with hair-brained ideas for long rides all the time. But every once in a while a friend will come up with a good one too. This time it was Joe’s bad idea and all I had to do was show up and go along for the ride. I was sitting at work the other day and the communication went something like this:
Joe: What do you think about riding from Prescott to the Black Canyon Trail by way of Crown King?
Me: It was 18 degrees last night in Crown King and there will probably be some deep snow. It could suck.
Joe: Yep, we’ll bring fat bikes and whiskey. We should be fine.
Me: I’m in.
That’s all we needed to set the ball in motion. Joe decided that since it was a shorter distance and over a holiday weekend, that we should recruit some more people and make a little rolling party out of it. Nebraska Scott (who destroyed the Beer Century a couple months ago) and Easy-J jumped on board and now we had a party. The first day would be nothing but dirt roads through the pine trees. The second day would be a really long downhill followed by 20-30 miles of singletrack.
Any good bike trip should start out with not enough sleep and too many beers the night before, and this was no exception. The 6am meeting time was not easy, but Fatso’s Joe was nice enough to give us up the hill to Prescott.(Thanks again Joe!) Breakfast beers were had and then we pointed it south. Climbing away from town, the pavement ended and we started to hit patches of snow. A little bit of dirt, a little bit of snow. No big deal, just keep climbing.
We climbed for what seemed like forever, when in reality it was only around 11 miles. But being slightly hungover and riding a clown bike in the snow made it quite the death march for me.
Crown King local, Jeffro, rode out from town and met us half way. Normally I wouldn’t think anything of it, but that was the first time I met him and I noticed he was armed. I recalled an old post I did about a two day ride on the BCT where I brought my pistol and caught some flack. Then the blow-back from Caveman shooting a tree in his front yard. I just had to chuckle. Handguns on bike rides really don’t give us pause, but we forget that this is abnormal in a lot of places. It is rugged country up there and this is just the way it is.
Whenever I had a chance, I sent some pictures off to my instagram to tease a couple people who bailed on the ride last minute. Cupcake was sitting home bored in WI and got crafty with a little collage of my pictures:
It ended up being a 35 mile dirt road slog that took us about 8 hours to complete. If you have never been there, Crown King is a pretty unique place. It is an old mining town where a few hardy souls still call home. It is high up in the Bradshaw mountains just north of Phoenix and is a great destination for anybody who wants to take the trip back in time to how things used to be in the west. There are only a couple of shops to refill your supplies and one saloon. That’s about it, and you don’t really need much more than that. We rode straight to the saloon and stayed there until it closed. The locals were super friendly and things got sloppy in a hurry. There is only one picture from that night, and luckily it sums it up pretty well.
We woke up the next morning to frozen mud on our drivetrains and we took our sweet time getting started. We knew we had a 12 mile downhill in front of us and we wanted to make sure we were wide awake for it. Rolling out of town, you cross what the locals call the “Magic Bridge” and it is like a porthole into another dimension. One side of the bridge is ponderosa pine forest and on the opposite side, is the Mansanita and Juniper of the high desert.
With twelve miles covered and barely a dozen turns of the cranks, we worked up quite a thirst. Luckily, the bar in Cleator was open for business. Cleator is another throwback to the days of old Arizona and a place where you can get a cold, shitty beer for a dollar and listen to the locals (all twelve of them) tell you some pretty crazy stories. We left a dollar on the wall for any future drunkcyclist who may need a cold one.
We burnt a lot of daylight in that little bar and left 2 hours later swerving down the road looking for the entrance to the singletrack. Finally! We were at the one part of the ride I had been looking forward to the most. If anybody was tired at that point, you would be hard pressed to tell. We hit that trail hooting and hollering for the next 4 hours. It was nothing short of awesome
When it was all said and done, it was fairly modest mileage for how much we beat ourselves up. Just about 80 miles of dirt over two days through snow, mud, wind and whiskey. Sitting at our post ride meal, Easy J hit the nail right on the head when he said:
“We just did something really fucking cool”
I couldn’t agree more and I can’t wait to get back out there.
keep it dirty…
What’s the difference between a Guides tale, and a Fairy tale?
Fairy tale starts out “once upon a time”.
Guides tale starts out, “no shit, there I was”
You sir, tell a great deal of very good Guides tales…..
Looks like fun. More snow in AZ than NY. Fuck anyone who says global warming is a farce.
With every word, my hatred of where I live grows deeper. Someday this burning rage will ignite and blast my ass west.
Good on ya man, sounds like yet another epic.
@Dirty— consistently excellent reportage, brother. Bravo!
@sfb— to quote Warren Miller, “If you don’t go this year, you’ll only be another year older when you do.”
Nice….very nice. Maxing out fun meter for sure! Cheers.
Makes me wish I had stopped in at that tumbleweed of a bar at the bottom of Skull Valley during Whiskey last year.
That *sounded* really fucking cool.
Shivering in Chicago,
I’ve done the ride from lake pleasant to Crown king and back a couple of times, and that ride back downhill is scary when you are exhausted with a shitty elastomer fork over those monster rocks. Feels like you could easily fly off the road and over the cliff.