Jan 31, 2010

Quadruple Bypass: McDowell Mtns - Scottsdale, AZ

Last Sunday was the fourth annual Quadruple Bypass. Not a race, not a benefit, just good old fashioned social ride. :thumbsup: And beat down at that. Actually a handful of people upped the ante this year by doing the Gnardruple Bypass (the inclusion of Tom’s Thumb about 4 more miles and 1,200’ more than the tradition route done in the past).

I stuck with traditional route, and suffered plenty . Some would say 33 miles, ‘no big deal’, but you couple this with 6,900 vf of climbing and you’ve got some fatigue issues.
I’d say close to 50 riders hit the trail that beautiful Arizona morning, but the bulk of the people (say 30) split from the Basha’s Grocery Store parking lot (Scottsdale, AZ) lot at 8:45. It was pretty dang comfy out; prolly 55 degrees. I was in a t-shirt and shorts, cuz I knew the temps would get close to 70 in the afternoon. Which it did!

- Route: Up Windgate Pass (first Bypass), down the backside and over to Bell Pass(second), down Bell, over Paradise to Quartz/Lost Dog/Old Jeep Road to Sunrise, up and over Sunrise (third), up the jeep road to Promenade/Sonoran and Dixie Mine, Dixie Mine to Coachwhip, and up to Windgate again (fourth), down Windgate and back to the cars.

Some riders actually train for this punishment/enjoyment. I did not, and I paid the price. I hadn’t cramped in years, but about 5 hours into this 8.5 hour journey they started to kick in. Backcountry skiing the past couple of weekend, meant I had acquired a different type of fitness than required for this type of sadism. I also ran outta water about an hour earlier than expected. Luckily there was the refill spot at the midpoint of the ride. Once I got rehydrated I started to feel pretty good again.

The group I pretty much stuck with was 11 riders strong, most of which I had ridden with before. However, most of the group hadn’t done this ride before, and for some these were completely new trails.

More details of this ride can be found on this thread: [URL="http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=575769"]MTBR Quadruple Bypass[/URL]
Just like portraying how steep a hill is on film, it is also difficult to show what a pain in the butt this ride is.

Here is a little vid of the day:

Jan 24, 2010

Cross Country Skiing On Pinal Mt. - Globe AZ

Over the past year, the thought had crossed my mind that I could feasible ski on Pinal Mt. With the big snow that blanketed pretty much everything over 4,500 feet, I knew this was just the window I had to make some tracks.

Being I live only 1.5 hours from Globe, I didn't split from town till about 7:00 a.m., and I was kicking by 9:00. I parked my car here, which is just past the left hand turn from FR 55 onto FR 651. Where I parked, the elevation was about 4,500 vf. This is as far up I as dared to take my car, since there was about 4" of snow at this level. I wasn't there first car up to drive on this snow, so the driving was pretty easy.

My plan was to cross country ski up the road as far I as I can get in 4 hours, then turn around. The snow on road had been mashed down pretty good by 4x4's and ATV's, but although fresh snow looks nice, I was moving up pretty good. I also knew that once I got to the tree line, that I would probably be the only human tracks on the road. And I was right, because there was tree after tree down across the road. I had to go over or under about a dozen trees that were knocked down due to the last storm.

As I got higher, so did the accumulated snow. It didn't long before I wash tracking through 18" of powder. Luckily it was a blue bird day, and other than the first 15 minutes I was in a t-shirt all day.

Once I got to the deeper snow, my pace slowed down. The downed trees didn't help, but certainly added to the landscape. I was hoping to have kicked up more miles than I did, but my 4 hour mark came at the when I was passing the Sulphide Del Ray Camp/Picnic Site. I continued just a little farther to the saddle where the road Madera Peak splits from FR 651. This is at 6,000 vf feet, so my the total climb up was 1,500 feet and 5.25 miles up.

The view from here was terrific. A small amount of clouds added to the contrast of the hyper blue sky, while the snow line on the south aspect of the hill was wasn't far below me.

It had been years since I had strapped on the cross country skis, and I had forgot how light and easy going they were. Heading down was nice, as I clung to the track I put in during my ascent. Things got kinda sketchy below when I got back down to where the trucks and ATV's had created an ice rink. I ate it several times over the last two miles back to the car. The lack of boot rigidity, no edges on my skis, standing on a 2" wide plank and skidding down the ice makes for a very clumsy ride. The tire tracks left me with very few options of killing my speed as I swished down the hill. I landed pretty dang hard a number of times.

My 10.5 mile/7 hour tour wrapped up at 3:00, with me walking down the last 100 yards to my car, since the snow had melted out while I was out having the time of my life.

Heading up to Six Shooter Trail, I've pedaled up this miserable road road several times before, but today was a nice change to do something that doesn't get done very often this close to Phoenix. The next time I pedal up this beast I will remember what a great day this was.

Here's a vid of the day:

Jan 23, 2010

Clouds over Desert Classic - South Mountain (Phoenix, AZ)

Ever spend an hour of so watching the cloud roll on by? Yeah, me neither.

How about we rap up an hours worth of clouds in 17 seconds.

This was done at 7:00 on Desert Classic at South Mountain Park in Phoenix. These are the last little remnants of stormfest 2010 that hit the Arizona. Some parts of AZ saw more rain from this one storm than they saw all of last year.

Jan 17, 2010

Allison Clay Drainage - Kachina Peaks (Flagstaff, AZ)

Maadjurguer and I split from his place at about 5:30 am, and en route we made plans to meet up with a buddy of his in downtown Flagstaff, for a little tour over to the Allison Clay gully in the Kachina Peaks.

We split from the parking lot at 9:30, where we cut across Harts Prairie to Humprhey Trail. We then jumped on an established skin track and headed due north through the forest to Dutchman path. The we skinned up this clearing to the bomber crash site. Once we got to the bomber we traversed north around the mountain to Allison Clay.

When we got to the vast slope I could tell surface of the snow was gonna be horrid. It was ripped and rippled wind blown crust. The avi conditions were stable, but Maad wanted to get some snow analysis done before the next cycle storms were ready to hit during the next week. So he dug a pit and noted the stats. The weak layer on top appears it might be a problem once the next dump sits on it.

Maad and his buddy traversed across the bowl to the other side to take a look at the next gully on the other side of the next ridge. Myself I was pretty content staying right where I was at. I could see that although the other side of gully had seen some sun, it still look pretty nasty. Once I hit the bowl, my expectations were justified because the crust was terrrible, and no improvement in the conditions were found once I skied down and across the the other side of the gully. I'm glad I didn't spend anymore effort on this gully.

Once I met up with my colleagues, it wasn't easy for us to decide to leave Allison Clay and exit stage left to the trees where the snow was protected. And that was where the fun was at. The fresh snow that fell the past week was in excellent condition. We had traversed a little closer to the resorts direction, but we kept our eyes pealed for the ideal glade to rip down. Once we found some good tree spacing we tore it up. That was some really fun skiing.

I tried a new helmetcam mounting, but unfortunately I had it aimed at my ski tips. I ended up using this footage sparingly in the vid of the day. I also made a special vid of Maadjurguer doing his snow pit analysis.

Ski tour Vid:

Snow Analysis vid with Google Earth Route (Red line is the path up, Purple Line is Maad's path to the otherside, Yellow Line is Maad's descent, and the Blue line is the rest of the descent.)

Here's a little discussion over at Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center about Maad's analysis.

Jan 10, 2010

Tom's Thumb McDowell Mountains (Scottsdale, AZ)

I met up with James at the Basha's in North Scottsdale (Bell and Thompson Peak) at 10:00 and the plan was to finally ride Tom's Thumb up in the McDowells. This trail was opened up about year ago.

The weather was perfect. Not cold, and it definitely wasn't gonna be hot. We had a little bit of high clouds and winds were kinda pumping on top.

Usually the ride up to nearby Windgate takes about an hour, but this one took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes. I was on my Reign X, which is topping the scales at 37lbs. Despite the weight, the bike really stuck to the trail. I was pretty familiar with the first half the pedal up, and the new trail up to Tom's Thumb started off in the same manner, but then about a mile and half from the top, the trail took us up a steep hill with about 18 bazillion swithbacks. These swithbacks were super steep and didn't allow for much room to come around. It kinda felt like Donkey Kong the walking up the 45 degree angle girders. The great part of this trail is that you pretty much had the goal in sight the whole time.

The trail composition change about a quarter mile before arriving at the Tom's Thumb Pass, to crushed granite cinder. It also changed to a moon landscape, as the trail meandered through giant boulders. Really rewarding a scenic.

James and I decided to continue down the backside of Tom's Thumb to where it intersects with Windmill (Windgate and Coachwhip). The cinder riding was fast, but kinda sketchy. Then couple this with steep decline with nasty switchbacks and y'all have yourself a pretty exciting ride. No big drops to speak up, but it was pretty thrilling. I was glad I had my big bike, with my big tires and big rotors.

We then climbed back up to the top of Windgate, maybe about 600 or 700 Vf of climbing. The rip down Windgate was a hoot. I was railing, and the big travel big soaked everything up.

I believe this loop was about 14 miles and it took us about 4.5 hours.

Here's the vid of day:

Here's a Google Earth Model of the Route:

Jan 1, 2010

Black Canyon Trail (North Section)

I met up with Doode, and 7 other doods, to ride the new section of Black Canyon Trail. What a way to start off the year, but rolling on some primo single track.

Our plan was to leave some cars at The Black Canyon City Trailhead, and then shuttle up to Bumble Road where the trail intersects (about half mile off of I-17). We didn't actually park at this intersection, because we drove right by it. The signage was not to clear when we initially went by. Instead we parked a couple miles down the road; after the road turned unpaved. From here, we picked up the actually BCT. Joe and I pedaled back up the trail to the Bumble Bee Rd. intersection; about a mile.

We pretty much took our time on this ride, making sure we were on the correct path. We basically started pedaling at 10:30 and finished up around 2:30. That is a long time to cover 13 or 14 miles. Actually I'm not fully sure what the true mileage was, but I'd say its in that range. It isn't to tough to get off the path, due to the Jeep Road crossings, Stagecoach paths, and gas pipe line.

The trail obviously needs to be packed down more, but the contour of the path was really nice. Even the we shuttled to a higher point, it wasn't all down hill, since we went down to the bottom and up out of the river bed several times.

No real mechanicals, and surprisingly I think we only had two flats. Not bad for riding a brand new trail, which can be prone to have hidden sharp things.

Joe stated it pretty good, when he said "How you spend New Years Day is a pretty good indication on how you will spend the rest of the year". I can only hope I will continue to find excellent adventures, good company and feeling good all year.


Here's a vid of the day: