TR - Cranksgiving 2017 in AZ

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by evdog, Dec 21, 2017.

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  1. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Well I think I finally have web hosting figured out for pics. FU, photobucket!

    Moab was a little cold last year for Thanksgiving so I decided to head over to AZ this year where temps would be more comfortable. In fact, they were fantastic with highs forecast in the low 70s.

    Day 1 - Picketpost Pulverizer DNF

    First ride up was the Picketpost Pulverizer, one of the AZ endurance series rides. I did the middle distance of this event a couple years ago but wanted to give the long route a go. As a bonus, I would get to ride best part of the AZ Trail Picketpost segment twice in one day. Not many takers this year for the A route. Possibly one other rider, but I thought I had heard he might have bailed. Start was scheduled for 5am but I decided to start earlier since it would be a long day.

    Official start time

    Giants slowly appeared out of the shadows as I climbed. Aside from a few birds and crunching of tires it was totally still and quiet. I did spot one tent off the side of the trail not too far before FR4.

    First and final view of Picketpost Mtn

    Sunrise was pretty spectacular

    I was hoping to be at the overlook into Martinez Canyon for sunrise but this was nothing to sneeze at. And looking back, was probably a better place to view it aside from the saddle just before the 14mile overlook.

    It was definitely an incredible time to be out riding and well worth the early start.

    Martinez Canyon

    Beginning one of my favorite stretches of trail anywhere....

    I'll let the pictures do the talking...



    Morning rays



    Some footage from the spot above to the spot below...

    After riding right under it how many times, I finally found the 2 Thumbs Up cactus. At this point in the ride things were all two thumbs up.

    Nice view of Dale's Butte. It was somewhere around here I started getting a bit of pain in the right knee. Not unusual, and it typically goes away after I adjust foot position on the pedal.

    The Gila was a bit wider than I remember...

    Balls deep crossing. Turns out there was another racer after all, Greg from Tucson. He caught up to me here...

    After the Gila crossing there is about 15mi or so of jeep and dirt roads back to Kelvin. I was annoyed to find that the knee pain which started earlier was getting worse instead of better. Coming to a half mile section of deep sand I hike a biked most of it hoping that would shake things out. Climbing away from that low area it got worse and worse. It now hurt to hike, too, which is very unusual. And it got worse again to the point it was throbbing, just standing still even. Not much I could do right then. I'd have to ride out to Kelvin no matter what.

    Greg seemed to be suffering a bit too and dropped back for a while after the sand HAB

    Not many people out there except for a few hunters. One group had a nice buck and had seen a big mountain lion earlier that morning.

    For a moment I thought maybe throwing myself into this cactus would make me forget about the knee pain. Probably wouldn't have helped in the big scheme of things though... The knee pain eased off a bit and I was able to pedal most of the way out. But I could feel a dull pain the whole way with the occasional sharp stab during random pedal strokes.

    Greg was hurting too after having a crash on the descent down to the Gila. Getting into Kelvin the knee was saying my ride was over. No way could I do the whole 36mi PP to Kelvin in reverse, which is a burly ride on its own, nevermind starting it when you're 40 miles in. We rode out to the highway and set up hoping to snag a lift into Superior. We got very lucky and the 2nd vehicle through was a big pickup with room for both bikes, and the driver was awesome enough to deliver us right to the trailhead. Thanks dude!

    Ending early I at least got to have some beers with the other riders. On these rides even the tailgaters are normally gone by the time I finish.
    Photo: Schillingsworth

    Picketpost Mtn
    Photo: Schillingsworth
  2. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 2 - Gold Canyon

    Sitting around for an hour having post-ride beers the day before, all the knee pain went away, and it was still feeling good come morning. I was contemplating what to do with the rest of the trip though because I knew it could return after some miles on the bike. I didn't want to burn 3 vacation days if I wouldn't be able to do the rides I had on my list. For Sunday I figured worst case I could do a ride at Gold Canyon and if it was a problem again, could bail on the vacation days and head home. This time though, I'd make sure 15-20 miles would put me close to the truck.

    Gold Canyon is a really fun trail network just east of Phoenix, in Apache Junction. Little known five years ago, it has seen a ton of trails built in the last few years and has a bit of everything.


    Including some great scenery, as the Superstitions tower overhead to the north.


    I made my way generally from east to west hitting up some new to me trails, and some I've ridden before. Unfortunately some of the older stuff has fallen into disrepair.

    The Canuck drop is on Gila Monster. I'd never seen it before but the dots showed me the way. The trail petered out after a sketchy runout.

    The main trail I wanted to check out is a new one called Hoodoo, which has some open rock slabs and steep rock rolls and chutes. After some stiff, technical climbing I came across an unknown split in the trail. I rolled a little ways down and stopped for a self timer shot. But ultimately climbed back up and went the other way, as it seemed like it would have a longer payoff. Fun trail for sure. I had to dial it back as I was getting tired, and the knee was starting to act up again on short punchy climbs.


    I'd hoped to do 2 laps on Hoodoo but called it after one and started making my way back to the truck.

    Here's the line I took down. Almost went over backward on the rock roll as I didn't have the speed to clear it.


    Enjoying the golden hour


    I got back to the truck about half hour before sunset and enjoyed a beverage. The hiker lot just down the road had been overflowing, but I saw just a few riders and hikers on the trails. Similar to the day before, the knee started bugging me about 15-18 miles in. It didn't get nearly as bad though, and again pain went away after sitting down for awhile. Seems manageable. I decided to modify plans for the trip somewhat and try a self shuttle the next day.

    Faust29, UPSed, Maddog and 3 others like this.
  3. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 3 - CDO

    Over the years I've done a couple fall road trips to Tucson to hit up the big rides off the top of Mt Lemmon: Lemmon drop, Canada del oro, Red Ridge, Oracle Ridge, Samaniego Ridge and possibly one other I don't know the name of. We've missed out on other years due to early storms so I was stoked that there was no snow on the mountain yet this year. CDO and Red Ridge are both still on my to-do list.

    I had originally planned to do one of these as a loop from Oracle riding up the Mt Lemmon Control Rd. Given my troubles so far, a 25 mile climb was not an option, but I thought I could pull off a self shuttle. So after Gold Canyon I headed up to Oracle and dropped the moto off at the American Flag trailhead. Then I headed up the control road to find a place to camp. It was chilly at the trailhead but much nicer at a saddle 15 miles up the road.

    I got up semi-early to finish the drive up. There is a shuttle service that takes riders up the mountain to do Lemmon Drop, CDO or Red Ridge but it picks up at the 50 Yr trail system and goes through Tucson. I've never heard of people shuttling up the control road. The upper 8 miles is why. It isn't super gnarly but you definitely want some clearance, and it is not at all a fast drive. I think it took an hour and a half to get to Summerhaven from camp, on top of the 45 min or so driving from the bottom to get there. So, not a fast drive up.

    View on the drive up


    See you later this afternoon, Oracle Ridge


    Off the top trailhead I picked up a singletrack that led to some cool views next to the radio towers


    And more views as I dropped down to the ridge. I'd start off for a couple miles on Samaniego Ridge, another tough but excellent backcountry ride


    Great views.


    Here's part of the descent on Sammie Ridge down to CDO. I have plenty more footage I might edit into something if I ever learn how. For now you'll have to discover it for yourselves...

    Soon enough I got to the turnoff for CDO. There was a bit of confusion as my GPS wigged out due to the steep terrain and showed me at a different spot from where I was - the map also showed a different entrance to CDO a ways down Sammie ridge from where I was at. I decided to turn here, and it was the correct move. The trail down was awesome. Steep and twisty into the pines, deep into a drainage.

    After crossing a couple downed trees I found the other trail connection to Sammie Ridge and walked it to check it out. It was much more faint and hard to follow in spots, but had an obvious sign at the far end. The way I went is definitely the way to go.

    I continued on, and the trail dropped further into the drainage. I had heard there were a lot of stream crossings on CDO, and there were. For some reason I had envisioned them being more rideable, but there were plenty that were not. Maybe it was just last winter's storm damage but there were steep drop ins and climbs out, often with large boulders. Lots of tough rocky spots on the trail too. I had more chain ring hits in a couple miles than in the six months since I bought the bike. Lots of downed trees. A few missed turns and backtracking. Being solo I had to take it easy and ride conservatively.

    Riding along at one point there was an explosion of fur in all directions, in front of me. I could only catch glimpses of fast moving critters with tails. I had no idea what they were. Moving ahead I had eyes peeled for more, and I heard a rustling in the leaves ahead. I snuck ahead to see if I could spot what was digging. In behind a rock I spotted another of these things. It leaped up when it heard me, but did not split like the others. Had I finally seen the elusive honey badger? It definitely didn't care. Or maybe it did... once I spotted the babies I realized it was holding its ground because of them. Not a honey badger though. Turns out it is a Coatimundi. Never heard of it? I hadn't either...



    The terrain flattened out for a while but it didn't get much easier. There was still plenty of on/off. And even more HAB nearing Charouleau Gap Rd. There were few easy miles on this ride...


    Most riders turn left on Charouleau Gap Rd and head down to the 50 Year trail system. It adds some fun miles to the ride. Trying to do this as a loop however would take me to the right. I had spotted a faint jeep road on satellite that headed all the way into Oracle. And if all went well, I wanted to check out another one that would climb up to Oracle Ridge. Neither would be an easy way out, each with a 1,000+ ft climb. The climb to Oracle Ridge was a bit higher but would put me on singletrack that would take me right to the truck. Done.


    The jeep road out was not faint at all on the ground. What it was, was gnarly.


    The flat parts were round river rock.


    The climbs and descents were steep and eroded.


    It was scenic, and waaaay out there


    I came across an abandoned isuzu trooper. Looked like it hadn't been there too long. I'm guessing it came in from the west because this would have been insane to come down in a vehicle


    Did I mention the views? I started up near the high point in the middle


    Got some great spy shots of Biosphere 2


    Looks like the coyotes had their way with donald duck


    All the steep parts you can see...I will be going up those


    Looking back


    Running out of daylight. But running into one of the better sunsets I've seen in a long time.



    The ride out on the Cody Bottom section of AZT was uneventful. More steep climbs than I remembered and a few cold air drainages. I had carried extra layers with me for the moto ride up to retrieve shuttle. I locked the MTB up out of sight and got going. The moto ride up was maybe half hour faster than driving. Was up top around 830pm, and then drove back down through Tucson so I could get dinner. That is a loooonggggg drive back around to Oracle!

    The knee more or less behaved, but mainly because this ride was almost entirely descending or hike a biking. Not a lot of spinning....

  4. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Crescenta Valley
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    PV3 & FEX
    I believe that the Coatimundi comes up from mexico. Nice find!

    Great pics and great report, thanks for sharing. AZT/PP and GC are two of my all time favs. :thumbsup:
  5. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 4 - 24 hr of Old Pueblo trails

    I was nearby and not getting an early start, so I figured the 24 Hr course plus some nearby trails would make for a good ride, and all of it would be new dirt.

    It was past noon when I started. I hadn't researched a route so I picked the eastern most loop and started knocking off trails in what seemed like the most logical order to hit them all with minimal duplication.


    Junebug to High Point was pretty fast and fun


    I made my way over to the west side where I picked up a hitchhiker


    People sometimes ask me why I carry a full set of allen keys rather than a multi-tool. It's because the full set is more useful in some instances. Like using it as a comb to remove cholla balls, for example...

    The GPS mount was also clutch in this extraction to catch and hold the cholla ball so it wouldn't flop over and reattach. The dead ones are easier to remove than the green ones.


    Everything in this photo wants to hurt you....


    Someone only got a Bronze star


    Of course I left the best til last for golden hour. I climbed up Bones, which is not part of the race course and sees much less use.


    Sunset. I had picked up lights on a pass by the truck earlier, so I was prepared when the trail took longer than expected ('cuz that never happens!)


    Last light up top of the ridge. There seem to be a few unmapped trails up there. I had to cross a number of barbed wire fences. At least they keep the horses out.


    The overgrown sections were actually the easy parts to follow. Where the trail entered open patches, there was no established tread to follow so it was a bit of a hunt to find the exit


    Interesting pink hue to last light


    I had the lights on for maybe 45 mins to get back to the truck. Had dinner and then hit the road back up to Phoenix.

    Being day 4 of the trip, I was probably starting to get a bit stanky. No where to swim, just baby-wipe showers. In case you're ever in need of a shower but don't have access, truck stops are actually a good option. This one on I-10 was a bit pricey at $12, but they are actually really clean and nicer than what you'll find in most homes, or any motel 6.

  6. Danimal

    Danimal iMTB Rockstah

    Mission Viejo
    Current Bike:
    GG Trail Pistol!
    I was in Playa Del Carmen mexico this summer. There was a Coatimundi that hung around the restaurant. Cute and calm little animal.

    Love the pics and report! Makes me realize I really need to get back to riding more than just weekend mornings. Thanks for Posting!
  7. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 5 - Goldfields

    Earlier this year a trail network popped up on Trailforks which I'd never seen before. I'd heard rumors of trails in the area, and actually rode through the edge of the network on a bikepack a few years ago. It turned out Schillingsworth happened to go out there back in May and posted a trip report. It looked like a really beautiful, rugged and remote area so of course it went onto the ride list. John had most of Wednesday free so we decided to head out and do some exploring.

    There was a bit of navigating on old jeep roads to get to the first singletrack. It looked promising at first...


    The first trail was Frankie goes to Hollywood. Well lets just say Hollywood has gone downhill. Looks like a lot of storm damage with many washouts.


    Where's the trail again?


    Views in all directions were a constant distraction


    Same spot, looking east


    Same spot, looking north


    A bit more hike a bike brought us to this view


    And this surreal landscape, lichen covered rock with a path worn into the green.


    Trust me it was much more stunning in person


    Had to do a couple laps on it. I nearly killed myself climbing up where I got hung up on a technical spot and fell over about 6 ft down a rock chute. Fortunately landed on my feet. Then almost crashed again same spot on the first run down. Found I could clear it taking a wider angle approach. Fun section

    Climbin' back up

    Photo: Schillingsworth

    And continued on the back side...



    We dropped down a short ways and then got into a series of climbs and repetitive wash crossings.


    Many patches of hike a bike ensued, with intermittent but excellent riding


    Cool view of Four Peaks


    I stopped to get a shot and John tried to flash a fist pump, but caught a wheel on loose trail edge and went down. Fortunately it was caught on camera. We'll call this the Fist Pump and Dump.


    Continuing on


    A trail off the main sand wash here turned out to be free-balling on slickrock. Mind the cholla that was lurking everywhere.


    This is where things got serious. After a half mile the canyon narrowed and the wash got gnarly. Hike a bike mode...


    Such a cool place, brought me back to Death Valley or Anza Borrego


    Exiting the labrynth


    And back on solid ground


    It takes a lot of work to travel through this area. It is not exactly bike-friendly. But sections like this make it all worth while.


    As do the views


    We didn't get in many miles. In fact we probably only rode 50% of the time. Lots of crappy wash riding (hiking) and jeep road (also sandy hiking). Countless unrideable wash crossings. Tons of large, loose rock all over the trail. This place is definitely an adventure. And I'll definitely be back!

  8. pperrelle

    pperrelle Well-Known Member

    Current Bike:
    Ripmo, Ripley V4 & Timberjack
    Looks like a great few days of riding. :thumbsup: I’m heading out to Phoenix Saturday to see our daughter and plan on bringing the bike and sneaking away for a desert ride somewhere.
  9. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 6 - SoMo

    It has been a few years since I've ridden South Mountain. This used to be a staple on every Phoenix trip. Guess I've been more interested in the more remote and new-to-me rides lately. I've been wanting to get back for a ride, so it was on the list. I figured it was a good option for Thanksgiving day as crowds should thin out by afternoon. I bummed around camp near Gold Canyon for a bit, had a nap, and then headed out to SoMo after lunch. There were a few cars in the 46th St parking lot and I saw a couple hikers and dog walkers on the trails. But not the crowds you often see.

    I keep forgetting how short the days are now so it turned out I didn't really have time to do 2 laps.

    Golden hour on the climb up


    I had to stop at the Waterfall on National Tr and do a run


    I finished the climb up and decided to drop Holbert. I had just enough light to finish it.

    Here's a vid of the complete lower part (give or take a couple editing errors) for your amusement. I had to stop and scratch my head a few times about which line to take. I did ok all things considered and rolled a few spots I thought would give me trouble. Slow speed gnar....

    I had my lights with me and ultimately decided to HAB up Mormon and drop National and Javalina back to the truck rather than take the road. There were a few more hikers still coming down Mormon in the dark.

    Good times, I definitely need to put SoMo back in the rotation.

    Side note, I was disappointed to see how wide and blown out National and Javelina was. I know this mountain sees a lot of traffic but jeebus, a lot of the trail was 8ft wide and in places 15 or even 20 ft wide.
  10. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 7 - Gold Canyon p2

    Schillingsworth and some others were going to ride Gold Canyon on Friday. It sounded like they were going to hit up pretty much all the stuff I hadn't done earlier in the week, so I decided to join them rather than ride Brown's or something else.

    First order of business was hit up Hoodoo again. I did better on the climb up and cleaned a couple of the harder spots. Also biffed a couple easier spots. So maybe not so much better...


    We took the right turn to check out the shorter descent option. It's a good one too and avoids a second climb. This is the opening slab descent.


    After a couple open rock turns it gets steeper and drops down some rock steps.


    Then after a bit of a traverse it joins up with the other line just before a big rock up and over.


    Rolling open slab



    After Hoodoo we hit up K-trail to Jodi's Dream to K-trail and then Tech loop. Here is Little Moab:


    Schillingsworth on another rock roll


    After finishing K-trail we did Phantom to Where ya fromme, and then up Quartz Ridge, one of the few trails that stays up high for any length of time.

    It only takes a fun couple minutes to ride Where ya fromme. Fromme, for those who never heard of it, is a mountain in North Van and is where I learned to ride.


    I was following John when he seemed to clip and pedal and was pretty much thrown right off the bike. Turns out his seatpost had snapped just above the seat tube. That put a dent in the ride. He tried riding without it but ultimately there was enough post still attached to the seat to still be somewhat usable. Fortunately it was just a couple miles back to the trailhead from there, and no big climbs.


    There had been a decent sized crew and a few people stuck around and beers in the parking lot.

    It was a bit later than I'd hoped and by the time I got something to eat there wouldn't be enough time for a sedona aftenoon ride like I'd hoped. Something in Phx was still an option but I decided to check out short a ride just past Sedona that John suggested - Kelly Pocket trail.

    It is only 3 miles long according to Trailforks but seemed longer - in a good way. After a short doubletrack connector I got onto the trail itself and it gently descended down this treed gully with plenty of interesting rock and a few log features and jumps.


    It doesn't look like it sees a lot of use though I did see two riders while I was out. It was a short climb back up a fire road and I finished just as it was getting too dark to see. Fun little ride that I'm glad I did!

  11. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 8 - Sedona

    I did the Triple H loop a few years ago and was itching to do it again. HHH and the Big Friggin loop are great ways to knock out a lot of the Sedona system in a big ride. So it had been on my Cranksgiving hit list, as was a ride over in west Sedona. HHH wasn't going to happen but MTBR's Traildoc volunteered to give me a tour on some super secret singletrack in west Sedona.

    I had come in from the north the night before so I camped outside west Sedona. It was a bit of a Sh!t show with every available opening filled with people. I had to drive quite a ways and then explore tiny double tracks to find a place away from the crowds. And even then I could hear some RV douchebag's generator running. All night long...


    I met up with John at 10 and we got rolling.


    Right away we were off any sort of main trail onto a vague goat path. While raw it flowed really well.


    We crossed a couple roads and then picked up a system trail before turning off onto some more goat trail.


    After climbing some switchbacks we got onto some trail I've ridden before.


    Views started to open up


    Traversing into a side canyon


    A bit of hike a bike then we traverse some more.


    Back onto system trails now we drop down


    This is more the sedona I'm used to


    More views


    More traversing


    Love this sign!


    We stopped for a beer when the ride was over.

    I was trying to goad John into another ride, so he called up some friends who were getting set to ride and we met up with them.


    After accessing via a couple system trails, ride 2 was mostly off route, super secret stuff. Only one pic because I didn't dare stop. The trails were so primitive and faint I wouldn't have known where to go if the rider in front of me got out of sight. No way I will ever be able to find this stuff again on my own...

    I have been pretty burned out on Sedona trails as there hasn't been much new / interesting stuff there for a few years, so this ride was good for the soul. Thanks to John and others for the tour!
  12. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 9 - Preskitt

    With so many places to ride it's hard to get back to your favorites. It had been a few years now since I'd ridden in Prescott and they've been busy building new trails and re-routes, and finishing up the Prescott Circle Trail. I've been wanting to get out and ride that for sure. I figured a self shuttle would be a good way to see some of the new stuff without committing to too long of a day.

    After riding Sedona I got some dinner and then made the drive over to Prescott. It takes longer but is a shorter drive going through Jerome. I had never gone that way before and had head there was a cool brewery in town. Turns out it is not a brewery (yet) so I just had a beer and continued on. What a cool town to drive through...

    Waking up to a view of Thumb Butte


    Not to mention San Francisco Peaks


    I started at White spar campground and headed east. It seemed like there had been a lot of re-routes on the first climb up.


    I rode Ranch Tr 62 on the last trip here when it was brand new. It is definitely worn in now. The route of the Prescott Circle Trail is well marked.


    Good views when the trail gets out of the trees.


    And fall colors when you're in them. Lots of crunching under wheels.



    The old Ranch Trail just above Boy Scout has been entirely re-routed. And very recently too, there were still machine tracks visible in the dirt for much of it. The Ranch Badger connector was even newer, and not even bedded in. I kept expecting to round a corner and see a mini excavator. It looks (and feels) like a bad haircut but hopefully it will bed in nicely and ride well. Badger Mountain is lower down and is a bit older. Good views and some bonus climbing on that one to get above some houses.

    I crossed under the highway through a storm drain and hopped onto the Sundog Trail. I was expecting boring trail but it had some really fast fun sections.

    It was a pretty good last day ride and I got home at a somewhat respectable hour. I took a different route home through Glamis, what a gong show. Really, you all need to fire up your light bars while driving on the highway??? At least it got me beyond the construction zones east of El Centro.

  13. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Interesting you say that... for all the talking up I've done about these two trail systems I have never been able to twist anyone's arm into a road trip to ride that AZT segment. But mention Sedona and people are tripping over each other to come along....
  14. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Western US
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    HT, FS
    Holy crap, I'm exhausted from just browsing the pics...nice job Ev and John! Thanks for the shares, Ev. :thumbsup:
  15. Voodoo Tom

    Voodoo Tom MTB Addict

    Tom Kokkinakis
    Current Bike:
    Mango one, blue one, black one
    @evdog dude I love your reports and that you take your time and get to em when you can. As always your photos and commentary are second to none. I'm so insanely jealous of the way you put together these multi day epic adventures and someday hope to be able to join you for one. Up before dawn and still cranking after dusk then sleeping on a dirt floor lined with a thin pad is not something most people are capable of doing. Thanks for posting these up.
  16. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Hooligan

    Current Bike:
    Chameleon 60%
    Yes, Thanks X100 for putting this together. It was a real labor of love in the making, and appreciated!
  17. Tom the Bomb

    Tom the Bomb iMTB Rockstah

    Alta Loma, Ca.
    Thomas Cosgrove
    Current Bike:
    Niner rip 9
    Damn Evan what a road trip! Just epic. South Mountain is one of my favorites. Hobart is some techy chit! Awesome! TFPU.
    Mikie likes this.

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