have been jonesing for a field trip down to Tucson Mountain Park after
talking to some riders on the Old Pueblo race course about the riding
there. I had a long list of stuff that needed to be done in town
including a critical Full Shower not a dribbly little trailer shower,
which hits the poop tank pretty hard even when you barely get wet. So I
headed to town.
As usual, I got going too late and hit Tucson
just as the lunchtime rush was in full swing. Also I had a map deficit,
so I was pretty much going from memory on how to get to TucsonMountainPark. I had spent more time than I should have online looking for beta about TucsonMountainPark
riding. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much. I considered stopping at Oro
Valley Cycles to ask them. In hindsight, I think I should have done
I got into the park I expected to find trailheads and maps. I did not
really find that. It really seemed to be a kind of drive-thru
attraction. I finally parked at a scenic view parking lot near GatesPass
and asked a stranger for any info. He told me that the Golden Gate
Trail, which had sounded like the best in the park from what I could
find on the net, was just over the other side of the pass. Good enough
for me, it was already after so I took off looking for any trail that headed off to the south.
wide but steep and ledgy trail headed off from another scenic view
parking area over there, and I rode up that. After climbing hard for
about a quarter mile, I came to a trail junction with actual signage!
Golden Gate Trail took off to the south. Yes!
away it got boy-howdy technical; a descent down a series of stairs,
steep and windey. I had visions of a broken wrist and a back full of
cactus spines. I rode much of it, but every once in a while I took a
humble weenie walk respecting the fact that I was alone and that I
really do not want to screw up my goal to do the 24 Hours in less than
a month. Soon the wild technical drop leveled off, and it got to be a
nice picturesque desert trail.
were unmarked trail junctions happening all over. I took one of them up
when I missed the line of stones that marked the real route and got up
into a nest of brush, rock and cactus. When I decided to turn around
and go back, I briefly found myself lost not even able to find the way
I had come. It was kind of a surreal experience. Like me and my bike
had just been dropped into the desert on a steep slope full of thorny
I found my way back to the trail, it quickly became a very fun, flowy
experience for a couple of sweet miles. Then it ended at the road I had
driven in on. WTF? I found a trail on the other side, actually labeled
Prospectors trail, so I took that. It was really nice, a little more
rubbly than Golden Gate had been, but
very rideable. Then it ended at a fence with a motorized vehicle
barrier. On the other side was a hodge-podge of four-wheeler routes.
turned around and rode back. At the same trail junction where I got off
the trail on the way out, I got turned around and headed the wrong way.
Hrumpf! Then I got back on track and soon started climbing the
technical part. It was mostly hike-a-bike, but every once in a while I
could do a completely anaerobic effort and make a small series of
climbing stairs. When I got back to the marked junction, I saw one
which was roughly where I was parked. I took that trail, which started
out 4 feet wide, quickly narrowed to singletrack, then just sort of
became impossible to follow. I wound up climbing back up the road.
it was a mixed bag; some wonderful terrain, some wonderful trail, great
to be back in the Saguaro forest again, but really
uncivilized in terms of trail markings and information. By the time I
got back to the vehicle it was and I had gone less than 10 miles. There was a trail that headed north
from my parking lot, so I decided to spend half an hour checking it
out. Again, at first it seemed pretty much bonafide, then it started to
braid. The option I took became very overgrown. I got scratched up
pretty well trying to follow it for another couple 100 yards, then gave
up and turned back. Hrumpf!
I drove back toward the city of OroValley, looking for a YMCA I had noted on the net. Heinous traffic again. I’ve spent quite a bit of time fighting Tucson’s traffic this week. I’m over it! Makes my little enclave up north of Oracle seem pretty nice!
got the shower, went to Safeway and filled a pretty detailed grocery
list, then went to Target and got some key items, then I did laundry
cleaning some key items. By the time I rolled out onto my familiar dirt
road toward the POD it was almost . I hadn’t had dinner yet and I was starving.
Screw field trips, I’m going to stay close to the POD until the trail work day on Sunday.
10:16 am January 25th, 2007
Good Day, Sunshine
Wednesday morning I got up and spent nearly two hours cleaning up the
trailer. I reorganized a bunch of stuff, did some dishes, and got
everything put back to where it needed to be. Then I went outside and
noticed that a really nice day was shaping up; still chilly, and a
little windier than I’d like, but not one cloud in the sky.
suited up to ride, leaving off the leg warmers for the first time in
over a week. I went with my long sleeve wool jersey, but bare legs! I
rode a wide variety of singletrack on and around the venue all day. I
was probably on the bike for a little over 5 hours. It got warmer as
the day went by, perhaps as high as 60 by the end of the day.
Wonderful. The Fisher was working perfectly, the trail was dry but very
tacky, and my newest tire combo was working really well: WTB WW2.55 up
front, Kenda Nevegal on the back.
I rode all afternoon,
rolling back to the POD just a bit before sundown tired and happy. I
was railing, all day. I actually nearly ran over a roadrunner at one point!
Finished the day with spicy beans, rice, and elk eaten on good local tortillas. Slept like a rock.
10:13 am January 24th, 2007
When you live away from hookups and dump stations
in a trailer, eventually you have to haul the thing in to dump yer poop
tank. I had another nagging problem—my battery wouldn’t hold a charge.
I was being forced to run my generator for longer and longer each day
just to keep the basics working. It was becoming clear that the battery
in her was dying. Used trailer, used battery.
The snow that hit us on Sunday afternoon made the road nasty.
On Monday it was heinous. I drove out Monday morning on a mostly frozen
road then drove back in Monday afternoon on pudding. The truck has
adobe mud stuck all over it.
knew that it would be a disaster to haul the trailer on that road
before it firmed up some, so I took Tuesday mid-day to ride on the
slightly mushy trails, then started preparing to haul the trailer in
after Tuesday. I needed go into Tucson
a little ways to get my battery tested and possibly buy a new one, then
dump poop, take on propane and fresh water, get some gas, etc.
spent a bit more time securing items inside the trailer, since I had
been hit pretty hard by things shifting around when I ran over rough
road on the way in. I took everything out of the medicine cabinet. I
laid the broom and wastebasket down onto the floor. I put food and
utensils carefully into cabinets so they wouldn’t be able to shift.
Then I locked up the POD, hooked her up to the truck, and drove on down
the road as carefully as possible.
Everything took too long, so I found myself heading into Tucson at around ,
which of course means rush hour. I managed to get to the battery shop
before it closed and my battery was judged to be a decrepit, old POS.
This was actually not bad news. If I had been told that the battery was
fine, I would have been either been fated to run a generator for 4
hours a day or start trying to figure out what was consuming all my
juice. I happily paid 80 bucks for a new battery, and then headed back
out north, rush hour now in full swing.
to the poop dump and unlocked the trailer to do some things inside. Oh
my goodness (this is not what I actually said) things had happened in
my little POD. The stovetop cover was on the floor, upside down. Also
there was some kind of fluid all over the floor. Of course my first
thought was sewage, since I knew the tank was pretty full. I carefully
smelled the fluid. It smelled like root beer. And something else. I
opened the fridge and said some bad words. The cap had come off jar of
Newman’s Own Salsa and there was salsa all over everything. Several
bottles of IBC root beer had sprayed all over. They had not broken, and
the caps had not come off, but apparently the pressure in them had
gotten high enough to breach the seals. Three of the six bottles were
at least 2/3 empty. And everything in there had moved. I said some more
At least there wasn’t broken
glass. That’s about the only good thing I can say. I did what needed to
be done in there and then got on with the business of dumping. It was
getting dark, so I figured I better just stay on task and do what
needed to be done. Before I headed back out to the venue I threw out
the root beer bottles that had been emptied, the empty salsa jar, and
scooped up and dumped as much of the glop as I could quickly. I put the
still full root beers up in the truck cab along with the stovetop
cover. Then I hauled her back out that bumpy road as carefully as I
possibly could, wincing hard when I rolled as slowly as possible over the badly washboarded parts.
and learn. Not only do I need to do even more to secure the POD when
it’s time to run her over bad roads, but I need to consider the cost of
running over bad roads with her at all. Certainly the shaking and
jarring doesn’t do the whole thing any good, even if it doesn’t shake
open a jar of salsa.
Friday and Saturday were “unsettled”, a word used
in arid places to describe times when the normally peaceful weather
becomes disturbingly rainy or stormy. I rode my mountain bike for
nearly four hours Saturday, though it was chilly enough to make my feet
icy cold by the time I returned to the POD at sundown.
dawned clear. I smiled when I saw the stars above and the light of dawn
coming through clear air. There was thick frost, but the promise of a
nice, fair day. At some point I heard on the radio that there was lots
of snow happening in Arizona,
and that it was predicted to come down to the 3,500 foot level. But I
figured they must be talking about somewhere else. It was shaping up to
be a nice day here.
Around I got dressed to take a long road ride. It was staying cold, and I figured I would ride down to Tucson and see some warm
desert. I loaded up my pack with a wind breaker and my rain jacket,
just in case. I also threw my winter weight gloves and warm helmet
liner in there.
As soon as I left the POD,
the cold wind went right through me. A cloud line that had been north
of me had slipped down and now was shielding me from the sun. I could
see a sunny place down south. I stopped and put on my windbreaker. That
just made it tolerable. I pedaled south, hoping for the kind of
temperature change that would allow me to start stripping layers as I
dropped down lower toward Tucson.
wind roared in my ears. I gritted my teeth, my mind focused on the warm
place to which I was heading. It seems that I was feeling that way as I
left Colorado half a month ago.
The Willow Springs Road
seemed longer in a head wind. And the road bed was moist, making my
skinny tires roll less easily than last time I rode it with this bike.
But my resolve kept me rolling. I hit pavement and some of the wind
noise in my ears was reduced since I was now in a crossing head wind
rather than dead on, but now I had traffic noise. I was OK though,
because it would be worth it when I was down lower and warm.
fought the cold wind down to Catalina. A little lower, but really no
warmer. And thicker clouds. Hrmph. I kept grinding along, down the long
hill into OroValley.
Really no warmer, maybe even a little colder, and now I couldn’t even
see any sunshine on the horizon in front of me. My plan started to
dissolve. I thought maybe I should just return to the POD and read
magazines all afternoon. I decided to go to a Conoco station that was
reputed to have a free septic dump. My poop tank was going to need
dumping soon, and I was only a mile or two away--might as well make
this trip worth something.
I got to the
station and found that there was indeed a poop dump. Super. I went to
the next traffic light, since the road there was 6 lanes wide and
jamming. Everybody probably was ready to get home and watch the
As I crossed over to start
my return trip, a raindrop hit my face. For the first time I took a
serious look at the horizon back towards the POD. Oh my, it was a dark
grey up there. Another rain drop hit.
tailwind now--uphill all the way home, but with a tailwind. Perhaps it
would be a good idea to jump on it, get home ASAP and have a good
workout to boot. Thirty miles home, probably take at least two hours.
Maybe two and a half if the weather turns bad.
wearing the windbreaker I put on five minutes from the POD, I looked at
my sleeves as the rain got a little more significant. They were
starting to get spotted. This jacket is worthless in rain. It gets
soaked. The rain jacket is utterly impermeable though, it can almost be
worse when you’re working hard. You soak from the inside with brine. I
figured I’d stick with this as long as I was warm enough and until the
rain got serious.
I passed through Catalina
and on toward Oracle Junction. Cars headed toward me started to have
their headlights on. Uh oh. That’s not a good sign. Dark
grey up there. I kept the tempo up on tried not to let things worry me.
Nothing to do but keep going, might as well just do that.
Oracle Junction the road turns to the east and climbs. My tailwind no
longer seemed to be there, nor was it really crossing the way it had
before. Sleeves of the jacket were pretty wet now, but not soaking. And
I was not cold. I was running at about 93% and drinking my HEED.
Seemed like it took way too long to get to the Willow Springs Road,
and once I was there the rain was pretty significant. The road looked
really greasy. Luckily there’s a sandy covering along the margins over
near the ditches. Bare clay in the middles, but I won’t need to be
riding there. As I got started I found that those margins were squishy.
I was still rolling in the big ring, but the resistance was
non-trivial. My sleeves were soaked now, too. And I needed to pee. But
I didn’t want to stop. I could not see the rocky rise behind the POD.
It’s normally visible from the highway. Just dark grey cloud. Shit.
should have stopped right then, peed, bundled up, and gotten ready for
what was clearly coming. It was too late to miss getting involved in
weather, but I just did not think that way. Momentum was on my mind. Go
After about 15 minutes of grinding up
the moist road, the rain started to turn solid. Wet sleet bounced off
my arms and face. I would have pedaled harder, but I didn’t have
anything more than was I was already giving. In another 5 minutes I was
riding through big fat flakes of slushy snow. The road was getting
softer and softer. I was looking for the Willow Springs Ranch gate, my
sign that I was perhaps 20 minutes from the POD. Vehicles with bikes on
top went past me with lights on. There had been lots of folks out
riding the race course when I left. Now they were heading home. I knew
I could flag one down and beg them to take me to the POD if I got
desperate, but I was OK. Cold, damn but I was getting cold, but I was
When I finally
got to the gate, it was snowing really hard. I crossed the road and
went through the parking area and onto the singletrack. My chain was
grinding away, wet and sandy. When I hit the first downhill section of
the trail, my brakes barely worked. The rims were covered with sandy,
icy slime. My fingers were getting numb. The thin gloves were soaked,
as was my dumb windbreaker. My feet were incredibly cold. I looked down
and saw dirty snow spats on them.
while it was obvious that I needed to stop and put on my rain jacket
and dry gloves. I stopped in the shelter of a mesquite, pulled off my
pack, and fumbled with the zipper. I yanked out the rain jacket and
glove. Then I peeled off the wet gloves and jacket I was wearing and
stuffed them into the pack. Shivering, I pulled on the stiff plastic
rain jacket and pushed the velcro seam together. Getting my wet, numb
hands into the dry gloves was a trial. But I shoved them into the
gloves, put my pack back on, picked up my filthy, snowy bike and
climbed on. I had to climb right away, and my slick skinny tire slipped
on the snow covering wet clay. The clay wasn’t saturated yet, thank
god. I was able to keep things going.
gloves immediately became wet. My whole front was spackled with wet
snow. I could not feel my fingers or toes. I had probably a mile,
perhaps a little more, to get to the POD. I was really tired. And I was
fighting back the panic. Visibility was maybe 50 feet through the
thick, wind-blown snow. I was heading straight into the wind once I got
off the singletrack and onto the dirt road that leads in to the race
venue. Somebody driving an old 4x4 toyota
with bikes on the back yelled something to me as he drove by. I waved
and made some kind of noise, but I wasn’t stopping for anything. The
snow on the road was perhaps 3” deep and slushy. I pedaled as hard as I
could without making the tire slip.
finally reached the race venue and the POD I was nearly out of my mind.
I quickly hung the bike onto the work stand that was in front of the
POD, peeled off my wet pack and fumbled for the keys. It probably took
me two minutes to get the door unlocked with my club-like hands. Once
inside I peeled off the wet, sandy clothes and put on several dry
layers. I turned on the heater and cranked up the thermostat. Then I
The Trucker after I had been home for less than an hour!
I made it. Damn. Southern Arizona?
05:19 pm January 19th, 2007
Exploring to the north
Thursday morning dawned cloudy and windy, so I headed to Oracle early
to get some provisions. Found a cool little place that sells biodiesel
and also a variety of hippie wares such as home-made salsa and baked
goods, coffee, and a small variety of groceries. It has wifi, which is
quite a draw for a geek-on-the-road like myself. I hung out there for a
while getting caught up on email and what-all, then rolled back out to
had woken up tired, so I decided to just take an easy ride. The main
road that I use to get out here is called the Willow Springs Road. It
reaches and passes through the Willow Springs Ranch right near where
the POD is located. Then it keeps going north for a goodly way. I had
been asking one of my friends here about how to reach the AZ Trail as
it passes through this country. I know it goes nearly right through
Oracle from Mt Lemon, then heads north. I was told that if I were to go
north on Willow Springs to the intersection with Freeman Road, then
take Freeman right, eventually I would see some carsonite signs which
would mark the AZT intersection. I figured that exploring that neck of
the desert would be a fair way to stretch my tired legs, so I bundled
up and rolled out to the Willow Springs Road on the Fisher once I got
back and had some lunch.
This empty country is great for long
rides when you just want to let your mind wander. There’s almost nobody
driving, just the occasional rancher, blaze orange bubba, or powerline
maintenance guy. I rolled north on Willow Springs, past the picturesque
Big House of the Willow Springs Ranch. From a distance this ranch
compound looks like a movie set. I’d love to check it out.
had my GPS so that I could see a big picture of this exploring trip. It
also was a tool for keeping this ride “easy”. I kept the pace casual
and watched my odometer. Once past the Big House, the road started
climbing gently. From about 3800 feet elevation I gradually eased up
above 4K, then after about 8 miles from camp I crested out at 4,350,
pretty tame by Colorado standards.
I hadn’t started out until
1:00 PM and the weather wasn’t great, so I was wondering how much
farther I should go. I really wanted to know how far it was to the
Freeman Road, so I decided to go a bit further, but maybe not 5 miles
further. The road was descending gently to north, at about the same
slope as the ascent had been. Miles clicked by through the scrubby high
desert. Just as I hit my 5 mile limit, I came to the Freeman Road. “Ah
yes”, I thought as I glanced at my watch. Around 2:30 pm, a bit over an
hour’s ride time to get to this point. Better roll down the Freeman
Road for a while to see if I can find the AZT now that I’m here.
immediately I saw some no trespassing signs along the road, so
apparently I was no longer passing through public land. Shortly I saw
the road in to the Haydon Ranch. I figured I was not going to see the
AZT for as long as I was passing through this property.
rolled up over some small rises and down through washes. For a while I
noted the no trespassing signs, then stopped seeing them. But I did not
see any Arizona State Trust signs, so I wasn’t sure whether I’d left
the Haydon Ranch. My odometer was reading more than 15 miles. A 30-mile
round trip wasn’t quite in sync with my “easy day” goal for this ride,
but I was keeping the pace casual. And I felt fine. Curiosity kept me
going. Way off on the horizon I could see a sign. I decided to go until
I could read that sign. Five or ten minutes later I was able to tell
that it was a picture of a cow. Bovine sign. Still curious, and not too
worried about being caught out after dark, I pedaled on.
was at about 16 miles when I decided I would go to 16.5 and then think
about calling it. At 16.5 the top of a rise showed less than quarter
mile away. I decided to see what was over that rise. When I crested the
rise I saw another rise, with a small square sign next to it. Too
tempting, I committed to the next rise. When I got there I saw that it
was the gas pipeline crossing. I wondered if it was the same gas
pipeline as the one that goes through the center of the race course
(the bit containing seven hills known as the Seven Bitches). The topo
says no, different pipeline.
Well, now it was time to look at
the watch again. It was a bit after 3 now, a little over 17 miles on
the odometer. Perhaps 90 minutes of ride time. Home by 4:30? Well, lots
of that return trip was downhill. My curiosity helped me justify going
to one more rise. I rolled less than half a mile to that last rise,
looked to my left, and there was a carsonite sign. I laughed out loud.
I looked to the right and didn’t see the one that signaled the route
south toward Oracle. Immediately I pedaled down the northbound route.
In perhaps 100 yards I encountered a cache of water bottles with fresh
footprints around them under a mesquite, a clear sign of the endurance
rider. Somebody was planning to ride this section soon. A warm-up for
the AZT 300? I rolled a little farther and came to a short stunt
crossing a gully. Then the trail became quite faint. No tracks, bicycle
or otherwise. Just a place where the grass wasn’t growing as tall as it
was nearby. After a quarter mile or so I turned around to look for the
Back out to the road, I rode along past the
first intersection very slowly peering off the right side watching for
the telltale carsonite. I started to wonder if I had already passed it
before I noticed the other one. There was a cattle guard up ahead and a
fenceline heading off south. Perhaps it’s just past the fence? Indeed,
once I crossed the cattle guard there was a doubletrack heading off
south. It was marked with a carsonite sign that had the AZT logo on it.
I laughed again and rode out onto the two-track, looking for it to go
single. I rode for perhaps 5 minutes, but the track looked like it was
going to be the same for a while, and I knew it was time to start the
return trip. But now I knew. And my GPS contained the whole tale.
I got back onto the Freeman Road and started rolling west toward the
POD, I saw that my odometer had a little over 19 miles on it. So it
goes. Supposed to rain tomorrow anyway.
09:17 am January 18th, 2007
OK, now I’m training
After a a 48-mile day on the mountain bike Tuesday and a 60+ mile day
on the road bike Wednesday, I woke up feeling a little worked. It is
time for an easy day.
bikes are such an effective instrument of torture! Isn’t it amazing how
easily a skinny-tire bike can be used to make one’s buttocks burn? No
hiding from the pedaling. Grind away up the hills, spin away down the
hills, and listen to the wind howling in your ears.
I was on
highway 89 just north of the little town of Catalina, just approaching
one of the new mega-subdivisions being carved out of the desert when I
spotted a coyote in the borrow pit. She was looking for a chance to
cross, all business. Staying low and out of sight, watching cars and
trucks whiz by. Waiting, waiting. I worried about her, and on my way
back by hours later I feared I would see her broken body laying on the
shoulder. No sign of her though--hopefully she made it to where she was
heading safe and sound.
Arizona is a busy, growing place. Like
Colorado, the growth seems to be spread around more or less all over.
Anyplace that’s beautiful you’ll see earth moving equipment turning the
landscape into a bland, flat building site. And then you’ll see the
grey-headed baby boomers, zooming around in their Subarus and Lexi,
looking for a dining room set or a Starbucks. But you’ll also see the
native critters scooting around doing their thing.
quail running around near the POD
11:51 am January 17th, 2007
24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race venue
I may be
home for a while. This place is a pretty compelling spot to hunker down
and train for a while. I have access to quite a bit of singletrack
including the race course. I’m way secluded, a 20-minute drive on dirt
from a lonely stretch of two-lane highway. It costs me nothing to stay
here other than the propane needed to keep my POD from freezing and the
gasoline needed to run my little generator.
are miles and miles of empty dirt roads and double-tracks serving a gas
pipeline and many bovine companions scattered across the desert. It’s
about 1000 feet higher than Tucson, which means that it’s a little
colder and probably a little windier than other places I could pick.
But that also means it’s better for training.
There are three
very cool people staying out here who I can visit with if I need to
hear a human voice. I’ll not share their identities for the sake of
I rode the race course all day long. It is a good course, very fast and
fun. Not too flat, not too much climbing. Unlike the Moab course, there
are no dismounts. Riding it now one has to get off to open or climb
over a gate here and there, but there is no hike-a-bike. I could remove
my granny gear for the race. This would be an outstanding singlespeed
course, but a big ring comes in handy now and then.
08:48 am January 15th, 2007
Out past Oracle Junction
I left Catalina State Park in mid-afternoon after getting some gas and
other things, then started scouting for a library so I could get on the
net. I needed to check email and get my fix in general, but more
importantly I needed to look at the directions to the 24 Hours in the
Old Pueblo venue, where I intended to go set up camp. Library-finding
just wasn’t happening for me as I headed north through the Oro Valley.
I guessed that the library in Oracle might be a good setup, even though
it was a Sunday afternoon and I did not expect it to be open. Libraries
that have wireless usually leave it on, so you can just sit outside and
surf the net. That’s what I was hoping to do, even if it was only for
half an hour or so.
drove on into Oracle. There was quite a bit less of it than I had
expected. But I did find the library. I pulled in and fired up the
laptop; nobody home. So I located the post office, dropped a letter in
the box, and then rolled back west to drive out on the Willow Springs
Road. I had seen the intersection to that road on the way by before,
and the name jogged my memory. But it had been at least a month since I
read the directions to the race venue.
I pulled the trailer out
onto the dirt Willow Springs Road. This was the first time ever taking
the POD on dirt. I winced as we slowly drove over washboards,
envisioning the chaos that would be happening back in my little home. I
really had no clue how to proceed from there, just driving along hoping
to get a sign.
A pickup approached with bikes on the roof. I
rolled down my window and waved them over. We stopped alongside each
other and I asked if he knew where the Old Pueblo venue was. He nodded
then looked forward and back. We had about 30 seconds before vehicles
would be arriving looking to get around us. He quickly mentioned an
arch I would pass through in about 5 miles, then a road to the left
that I could miss. Then about a mile back on that side road the land
would open up and that place would be the venue. OK, OK, thanks, good
luck, and off we go.
So I had a few specifics, and off I went. I
glance at my watch and it’s after 4. Less than an hour of daylight,
then would come the darkness and the COLD.
In my head was the
vision of the road into the 24 Hours of Moab venue, and watching people
gingerly haul travel trailers down there. How bad would this road be? I
drove slowly, watching closely for washboards and potholes.
what seemed like quite a while I came to the ranch arch. I passed
through. In maybe 100 yards there was a road on the left, and it would
have been easy to miss. It seemed like I better check it out.
was rough and narrow, way worse than that road into the 24 Hours of
Moab. I ran into little gullies crossing it. I got through the first
one, but each was a significant barrier. The trailer rocked to and fro,
and there were lots of creaks and groans. The next one was deeper. I
tried to cross, but the trailer frame dug in and I almost got stuck. I
backed out and decided I just better stop right there, wait until
morning and figure it out from there. In case this was a “real” road I
figured I better not block it, so I found a spot barely off it to set
the trailer and unhooked.
cold was setting in hard even though the sun had not yet gone down.
Shivering, I got out the generator and started it up, then I buttoned
up everything and grabbed what I’d need for the night from the truck.
I went into the trailer I was greeted with a scene of recent mayhem.
The 4’ tall mirror that is mounted on my bathroom door had come
partially off its mounting but had (luckily) not broken. The medicine
cabinet had popped open scattering it’s contents through the bathroom.
One other cabinet had also popped open. The dining room table had
toppled over and was resting on the dining bench. The heater ran
noisily and the generator outside added some noise to the setting.
depressing, especially when you consider that I really still had no
real idea what I was doing. I cooked up some food and then crashed. I
slept hard. Really tired.
The next morning I took off on foot
looking for signs. The folks that I had been told were staying at the
venue would be a source of good information. I hiked up the road that
I’d started up. At first, I found nothing that would stop me if I could
get past that one gully. Then the road intersected a high-tension power
line and began to run underneath it. Service road, and I found several
show-stopper barriers. It was still cold, and I did not feel like
getting on a bike right away, so I kept hiking looking for sign. After
about half an hour I came to a real road. Dirt, but graded! I trotted
back to my trailer to get a bike so I could explore a little more
effectively. Foot travel is so slow!
I briefly explored a branch of the road I had been camped on, then saw a trailhead that I had passed on the way in. Aha!
rolled up north on the Willow Springs Road and took the side road I had
hiked to. Before long I found the folks who were staying there. And the
venue. Woo Hoo! Adventure concluded, time to move the trailer in to my
new temp home.
is a nice place to stay. Key amenities are showers and access to the
southern terminus of the Fifty Year Trail. Cost me fifteen bones to
park the trailer there overnight; would have been 20 with electric
hookup. As it turned out the hookup would have been worthwhile since my
heater ran all night and the battery was drained by 4am. Had to get up
and go out into the 10° night to start up my generator. Cold like home!
Just without the 18 inches of snow.
I rode the trail in the
morning, then filled up with water and dumped my poop tank at the very
nice dump station (there’s another amenity for you). Time to head north
and go find the Old Pueblo venue.
Not sure how it got its name. Only took me a few hours to ride it…
trail is great fun. Mostly smooth and fast, and once you get out to the
northern reaches, an area called “the Chutes” is revealed. Oh baby.
Think amusement park ride. Swoopy long turns through baked clay
surface, death star channels, little airs, and a huge variety of routes
through. Perhaps it’s a little braided, but what a playground! I only
took the marked Fifty Year Trail route through, but I could see many
interesting side routes.
was a chilly Sunday morning giving way to a brisk afternoon when I was
there. As I headed back the way I’d come, back toward the Catalina
State Park, plenty of riders were heading in, many attired in mutant
turtle costumes. I can imagine that during a normally warm weekend day
there would be quite a few riders playing in there. Climbing some of
the chutes I climbed could be pretty dangerous with lots of riders
around—looks like a good venue for 1-way travel.