I have to admit we were both a little surprised when we woke up without incident under the overpass. We quickly had some breakfast (cereal with cold milk- oh we had gotten the fridge working off of the propane, we don't really need it yet, but I'm sure it will be very nice when it gets a little warmer) and headed off towards the trail. We wanted to try to get an early start because we knew we were in for a long day. The guide book described the trail as a 13 mile downhill on killer single track. Sounds perfect, if you have 2 cars- we decided to pedal the 3,000 feet to the top. It was all on a dirt road, and the views just kept getting better as you went up. It was pretty neat biking from desert to pine trees to above pine trees, and neither of us minded the climb. Well at least not until the last 3 or 4 miles, by that time I was pretty ready to start going down.
After 2 hours we were finally at the top (no pictures cause we didn't want to chance crashing on the camera) and we started into the snow- 85 degrees at the bottom and snow at the top. The whole first bit was hundreds of feet of calf deep snow, not solid enough to ride on, and yet not melted enough to ride either. Then we got to a barbed wire fence- I'm thinking this is gonna be a long 13 miles. Mike steps over the fence with the grace of a gazelle, and I'm stuck there puttering away with my mini legs. I got the bike over and then one leg, as I'm stepping the other one over my first leg pushes further into the snow and sure enough that barbed wire dug right into my hamstring. It wasn't particularly deep, but we exchanged some words all the same. As I caught up to Mike he wasn't all that sympathetic, and asked me why I didn't just open the gate...to which I replied "gate? that was a gate? AAARRGH"
So not the greatest start, but we were sure as we lost elevation the snow would go away. The only problem was anytime we got out of snow and could get back on our bikes we would turn the corner and there would be a giant tree down in the middle of the trail. This went on for quite a while, get on coast 10 feet get off hop over a tree, another 30 feet on the bike, off for a tree. Every now and then we could actually get a feel for the trail- and it was great, tight twisty single track that was super narrow in parts- tons of pine trees and these crazy fun switchbacks. But then there would be another tree. There was even a time that we completely missed a turn because there were 3 ginormous trees in the path right as it turned. We climbed over the trees and kept going straight, to our great confusion- we were hoping no one could ride this stuff. Oh and the other thing, we were supposed to be going down the whole time, but every now and then this all down hill trail would have a super ridiculous climb- during these times I was not so sure my legs were gonna keep spinning.
So anyway, what we could ride was great, and we were getting excited to be getting out of the trees into the rocks so there would be less dead fall. However, I was following the bad habit I sometime get into of watching where I don't want to go, instead of where I should be putting my wheel, and was having a bit of a rough time. Meanwhile Mike is having a blast hopping and dodging and generally being a very good bike handler. We got to one point where the trail narrows and if you stray, the ground just crumbles and takes your wheel with it. Sure enough that's where I was watching and where I put my wheel and slammed my left hand down on a very solid rock to catch myself. Painful, and frustrating, but not all that bad. After some encouraging words from the other, reaffirming the fact that I am not the worst mountain biker in the world and so on, we were flying down some more boulders over a couple creeks and down down down.
I was trying to stay with Mike, through a relatively non-technical section, when suddenly he hopped over a rock, landed, and then got thrown 3 feet in the air, slammed down on his side and skidded for another 10 feet. We had been going pretty quick, and he was a little slow to get up and walk it off. The only good thing of the crash was that he was still wearing arm warmers, and they likely kept his left arm severity down to a deep 3 inch abrasion rather than a bloody mess. We pretty much limped down the rest of the trail. Intent on finishing it, but not truly enjoying it quite as much.
Then suddenly we popped out at a campground (glittering in the sun because of all of the broken glass) and couldn't find the right trail to get back on. There was a road, and there was a different trail, but our trail was no where to be found. We were really stuck, not having any idea where the other trail went; the last thing we wanted was to end up back at the top of the mountain. We decided to take the road down, and hopefully meet up with our trail, but we never did- just went about 8 miles on the road- very disappointing. And then once we got down it wasn't even the right road, so we had to ride our bikes another 6 miles on dirt roads- half of it up (I wasn't very happy) to get back to our car.
We took a very relaxing shower in the stream that we parked next to, and decided to set up camp for the night.
Wednesday March 26th:
We spent the next day healing our wounds and hanging out at the Globe library. We went across the street for lunch to this little Mexican restaraunt. I got enchiladas for 3 dollars mmm- and we got horchata too- it was really yummy. We wanted to ride the next day, so we headed towards Payson AZ.
Payson seems like a nice town, a lot bigger than I was expecting, and pretty piney for Arizona. We headed for the Mogollon Rim to find the trail for the next day and camp for the night. It looked promising. The site we picked was pitch black and surrounded by pine trees. We built up a big fire and had a nice dinner under a thousand stars.
Wednesday March 26th:
Looking forward to trying out another trail in pine country we got on our bikes and rode the 2 miles to the trailhead. The trail started on the other side of Christopher Creek, which was swollen with snow melt, making the crossing a bit harrowing. The water rushed by under the logs we walked across, and it looked awfullly chilly. According to the book the 1st 2 miles generally take about 30 minutes. The only thing I can figure out is that he is just lying. There wasn't much snow here, but it is obvious that it hasn't left that long ago. And somebody was using the trail when they shouldn't have been. There were 8 inch deep horse prints all over the trail, and it was just a mess. It had obviously been very muddy, and had since dried up very hard. There were points where I would be pedaling, I'd fall into a horse print and my wheel would just stop. The ground was so hard that climbing in and out of the prints was 10 times rougher than the rocks.
Those same 2 miles that were supposed to take 30 minutes took us 2 hours to get through, and the trail was 20 miles long. The worst part was that the loop is really a lollypop and we would have to ride those first 2 miles back at the end. This riding was pure tortue and we decided that as soon as we could bail to the road we would. We got on top of the ridge and the trail improved a little bit, but it still wasn't great. Mike was really feeling it from his crash, and everytime he would hit a bump, especially one of those dreadful hoof pits it would painfully bounce him around.
So we're tryin to get off the trail as soon as we can when suddenly my bike wheel stops spinning. I stop immediatley and call Mike back to look at the damage. I had run over a large stick and it had managed to not only wedge itself into my derailleur but bend it in the most underailleur position I had ever seen. Mike the mighty magic master worked on the thing for 45 minutes when suddenly boom he snaps it back into place, and then gets it working perfectly. I was amazed since I was hoping to just get it ridable enough that we could get it back and then most likely buy a new one.
Finally we got off the awful trail and had a nice 6 mile ride back to camp, which was actually some of the most enjoyable riding we'd done that day. We decided to stay the night in our nice site and then move on to better trails in the morning.
Mike in a hurry to get the fire started
Our nice piney view
Mike and I had a face off to show our displeasure about the trail, who do you think won?
Friday March 28th:
We decided that after a couple of rough trails it was time for some rest and relaxation. Cottonwood was our destination, back to Frannies, the nice lady who let us stay in her house, and time for some showers! Enjoy the pictures.