Frigid L.A.M.B

Monday, May 25, 2015

It's been a while since I've ridden the famed Vermont gaps in the Green Mountains. Been a while since I posted too:(  Hopefully things will start chilling out at work. It seems all I do these days is work, punctuated with rides. Without my therapeutic lunch rides, I'm quite certain I would lose my sanity.

A few weeks back, Dan Massucco and Brett were scheming a gap ride, maybe trying out the recently introduced Vermont Gran Fondo course. That sounded pretty good to me, two weeks out from my Whiteface 100k MTB race. This organized ride hits Lincoln, App, Middlebury and Brandon gaps, thus the moniker LAMB ride. What also caught my attention is this course hit some roads I've not been on, including a lengthy section of gravel Ripton Road that goes over a mini-gap. Keith Button and Isaac Old also joined us for a day off suffering.

I've done many 4- and 6-gap rides on Memorial Day weekend. We've had heat indexes of 100F, torrential thunderstorms and run out of daylight. But I don't ever recall temps in the 20's overnight. It was a frigid start at 9am, maybe just barely hitting 40F. It didn't warm up a whole lot the rest of the day either. Suited me fine, a lot less fluids to consume, which puts my electrolytes out of balance.

Dan has a house on Middlebury Gap in Hancock. Fortunately, it was business right away going up and over the gap. Isaac established a no bullshit pace. The rest of us were talking at first, as Isaac started getting smaller and smaller up the road. Eventually the talking stopped, replaced by heavy breathing. I started running the scenarios. 1. Isaac was going to get bored riding with a bunch of old, slow guys (Isaac is younger than my son). 2. We were in for an ass whooping staying with Isaac. 3. First climb exuberance might catch up with Isaac on the last climb. I was leaning towards #3, but hadn't ridden with or raced against Isaac in a while, so I didn't know.

It was colder up top, and I think the full ear band that also covered my forehead prevented me from getting an ice cream headache bombing down the other side. My eyes sure did tear up though. Once down at the bottom, it was a long haul on Rt 116 to App Gap. I didn't much care for this road, a tad busy, and in rough shape in spots. The route up through Bristol was quite nice though. I had no idea a little town like that was buried in the mountains. Reminded me a little of Telluride or Ouray in Colorado.

Next up was Appalachian Gap. I had to stop at the bottom to shed my outer layer to gain access to food in my pockets. The other four bolted. Inhaling a granola bar while starting the steep lower section of App Gap was just that. Inhaling crumbs.

I started to doubt I would see the others before the top. It took a long time to catch Brett and Isaac. Strava later told me that was the fastest I've ever climbed App Gap from that side. Yeah, it felt like it.

Instead of bombing all the way down to Waitsfield like we normally do on gap rides, we were going to cut across on German Flats Rd. This caused some consternation in the group, as we had already climb a butt load of vertical, more to go on German Flats, with uncertainty of where to get more water before Lincoln Gap. Dan assured us we could resupply in Warren at the store, a place I've never stopped at.

The store was well stocked with a boggling array of tasty treats. The cookies were to die for. Also picked up a homemade nut and granola bar for later in the ride. Also very good. Throwing 500+ calories down the gullet was probably not the wisest before Lincoln Gap. This climb has the claimed steepest paved mile in the United States. I hadn't done it in a while and wondered how I'd fare with my biggish 36x32 gearing on a heavy bike.

You start out thinking this ain't so bad. I can do this. I still got it. Then you hit the part Brett once muttered "Oh God" on. Doubts rise. I think I can do this. Shit, I might not make it. My bike is stopping between pedal strokes. How am I going to keep balance?! I was shadowing Brett on this section. He bobbled and came into my line. It is hard to get out of the way when your are going no more than 4mph! Contact averted, but I heard F-bombs as I continued my struggle. Keith brought the biggest gears of the five of us, a 36x28 ratio. I would not be able to keep going in that gear. Keith didn't walk but did take a breather on the steepest part. Lincoln Gap shows no mercy!

With that out of the way, the rest of the ride should be a breeze, right? Ripping the gravel descent, I nailed something pretty hard. Made me cringe. Tires were still hard. No broken spokes. Didn't think to check my water bottles though. I jettisoned my full, large bottle and was left with only a few ounces in my other bottle. Son of a bitch! It was probably 15 minutes of climbing back up to where I lost my bottle. That wasn't happening. Everybody else saw it in the road but didn't know it was mine.

Ripton Rd was deceptively hard. Upwards of 900ft of climbing on gravel to cut back across to bottom of Middlebury Gap where we descended earlier in the ride. The loop topologically is a figure-8. From the high point, there was a very long, gradual run-out to Middlebury Gap road. Despite being quite dry, the gravel was in pretty good shape. Just dusty.

In Ripton, we made our second and final stop for the 104 mile ride. I picked up a cage-able bottle of Vitamin Water. Only one climb left, the big, steep side of Brandon Gap. How hard could that be? Keith cramped up bad on Ripton Rd and decided to head back over Middlebury gap to Dan's house. This would be a lot less miles and maybe 1000ft less climbing than the full route.

I was running on fumes heading up Brandon. Brett and Dan were dueling on this one. I contemplated giving up and "just enjoy" this last climb. But no. That is not the Hill Junkie way. Dan continued to put the screws to both Brett and I. Isaac had drifted off the back early on. As we got to the final steep push to the summit, Dan must have been thinking "see you later suckers" as he pulled away. Stick a fork in me. I was done. After regrouping, we bombed down.

Fortunately, there was no more hard work on the way back to Dan's. Brandon drops monotonically to Rochester. There was nasty headwind to deal with for five miles on Rt 100 though. Dan did almost all the work.

Reaching Dan's driveway, I was 100ft short of 10,000ft of climbing. I just had to keep going up his dirt road to claim that last 100ft. Officially, the Gran Fondo route has 10.6kft. Brett measured almost exactly this with his Garmin 510. My 510 measures a lot less than most others.

That turned out to be a great ride on a fun course with a tight group of riders. I would do that loop again. If you'd like to ride these gaps, consider the supported Gran Fondo in a couple weeks. Here are a few photos from our ride.

View west from App Gap summit. Adirondaks just visible in distance. Must be 100 mile visibility.

Regrouping on App Gap. Brett, Dan and Isaac.
Looks warm, but I was chilled by the time we got to German Flats Rd.

Keith approaching summit of App Gap on 18% grade section.

General Store in Warren. All kinds of goodies here. This will be a stop on future gap rides.

Selfie on Lincoln Gap

Keith still smiling cresting Lincoln Gap.

Brett and rest of gang bottoming out on west side of Lincoln Gap.

Last climb of the day, Brett and Dan on Brandon Gap.


Northeast Edition Climbing Guide Book

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A few readers may be familiar with John Summerson's series of books titled "The Complete Guide to Climbing (by bike)." First in the series featured the 100 toughest climbs in the United States. Several New England climbs made the selection. Since that release, John has published other regional guides, such as California, Colorado and the southeast.

Now John has released a Northeast edition. It features 172 climbs from New England and eastern New York. Detailed descriptions are provide with key stats. Profiles are given for the top 50 climbs. Here's are a couple excerpts from Kingsley Hill Rd:

"Isolated Kingsley Hill Road, located in northwestern Massachusetts, is a severe and unique ascent on a very narrow road. The first half mile of this one is simply the steepest I have found in the continental United States. Don't blink in the small town of Monroe Bridge or you will miss the turnoff. The rough surface adds to the difficulty along with a significant stretch of 20+% grade. If you survive the first half mile, keep going as the first mile of Kingsley Hill Road is also one of the steepest around."

"Crux stretch - The first half mile, which may be the steepest of this length in the United States, could end up terminating your attempt at this hill."

Yep, I've seen young studs have to put a foot down on that one.  Many more details are provided on the Kingsley climb, as well as every climb covered in the book.

Over the years, cyclists familiar with my website,, have suggested I publish a guidebook. That effort seemed daunting to me. They'd say "but Doug, you already have all the content." Well, maybe not enough to fill a book. I don't know the first thing about publishing, and my day job eats up well more than 40 hours of my week the way it is. Publishing a niche book like this would have been a break-even proposition for me at best. It would have been a labor of love, just like my website was when I was regularly adding content.

But now John has published a quite comprehensive guide to all the climbs we love, and even a few in my neck of the woods I hadn't heard of. He did his research and used first-hand knowledge for nearly every climb featured. Look for a copy on Amazon (says temporarily out of stock, but John assures me they have them). I have a couple copies, Order yours today.

At some point I will retire my website. It has grown stale due to lack of regular upkeep. If I were retired, I'd keep it going. My investment of time in has paid back dividends many fold. I've met some of my best friends through the website. I've enjoyed private email dialog resulting from the website with hundreds of hillclimb enthusiasts over the years. But the cyber landscape has evolved in the 17 years since I first stated a web page. Facebook and Strava vie for and capture much of our attention these days. Blogs have pretty much fallen by the wayside too. So now we carve out our little space with a billion others in these media.


Carolina Climbing

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We picked a dubious weather week for some road cycling in Brevard, NC. Heading down last Saturday, there was high probability of rain every day Monday through Friday. At least it wouldn't be cold like it was in 2012 when I last came down here. That trip saw flurries some mornings, and the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed due to wintry conditions. The Parkway provides some of the finest early season riding in the southeast. Tourism season doesn't ramp up until May, so the Parkway is essentially a ridge top bike path. Now just if the weather would cooperate enough to let us complete some big loops without getting drenched or electrocuted.

After building the bikes up Saturday, Brett and I were able to squeeze in a classic loop that is the core of an organized ride called "Assault of the Carolina's." It passes over Caesar's Head in South Carolina, the state's highest point.  The 51mi, 5100ft loop did some damage. It was a bit more than a bike "shakedown" ride.

We rented a house outside of Brevard. It sits 1000ft higher than town at about 3200ft elevation. Rides from the house entail 1300ft total climbing to get back up to the house. About 300ft of this vertical are at 17-19% grade. Yeah, that'll feel great after a long day in the saddle. I think Arik, who unfortunately couldn't make the trip, deliberately picked this rental because we bitched about the other house we've rented a couple times. It had a 400-500ft climb up to it. That'll teach us...

Sunday was the only 0% chance precip day of trip. We had to go long.  Tom arrived late the night before, so three of us headed out from the house. The planned route was another classic, the 215/276 loop which entails two major climbs up to and over the Parkway.  90+ miles and 8000ft of climbing. Unfortunately, a portion of the Parkway between 215 and 276 is being worked on and closed, precluding other route options that traverse this scenic section. That climb back up to the house? Brett cramped up horrifically approaching it, and I nearly had to push my bike up the 19%. I did not bring a compact crank but did have a 32t cassette on back. Oh boy, the rides are going to get more interesting as the trip progresses.

The next couple days we did shorter, closer to the house rides due to high threat of rain and storms. The rides averaged about 50 miles and over 5000ft of climbing.  Not what we hoped for, but none of us are really into riding in the rain with the extra bike maintenance it entails. Shorter does not mean easy. It means you can go harder.

Wednesday's weather looked promising for a longer, higher elevation ride. Brett really wanted to give Mt Mitchell a go, via the Parkway from Asheville. This ride would require a short drive to the start. This was on my bucket list too, as the last three trips for me this ride was impossible. Two of the years the Parkway leading up to Mt Mitchell was closed due to a land slide. In 2012, it was snowed in. No risk of that on Wednesday. Temp in Asheville was expected to break 80F. There was risk of afternoon storms though. I wouldn't want to get caught up there in the storms that moved through here the afternoon before.

Tom headed off to Charlotte area to see friends, so it was just Brett and I. Our pace was pathetic. I think I lost my roadie legs this winter. You'd think a week of big vertical on the MTB in Arizona a few weeks ago would have given me a boost, but you'd never notice. Wow, was I tired. Tourist pace it was going to be.

We started out below the fog deck, dark, misty and dreary. A thousand feet of climbing brought us to mostly blue, sunny skies. It was very humid but not yet too warm. The Parkway was deserted. A car would go by every 15 minutes or so. It was just the wind and our heavy breathing breaking the silence.

Turning off the Parkway onto the Mitchell summit road, the headwind was fierce. It was getting noticeably colder too, borderline needing layers even climbing. The summit was in and out of the clouds. Seems the previous two times I've climbed Mitchell via a different route, views from the summit were fickle.

The summit area was nearly deserted, the shops not yet open for the season. No water either, so I was very glad I took a third water bottle up in jersey pocket. We poached the footpath to the observation deck. The summit was in the clear! After quick obligatory summit photos, it was time to zip on the shells and rocket back to town before any weather materialized.

The decent rocked! There's a section that drops nearly monotonically 3000ft without need to scrub speed by braking. There are three short tunnels on this section.  Brett and I agreed this was one of the best descents we've hit in the greater Asheville/Brevard area. It was a great way to end a 68mi, 7400ft day.

We have two more days of riding left. Friday looks like complete washout, but we've had other days look this way and turn out ok. We may go for broke on Thursday and do another big one. I'll leave you with a few photos from the Mitchell ride.

At 3200ft on the BRP, about 1000ft above Asheville. Just above fog deck.

Brett clearing one of three tunnels on this section of the BRP.

Around 5500ft. Mt Mitchell in distance just off Brett's forearms, completely socked in.

Neat trees with fungus at around 5500ft on Parkway.

Brett approaching summit

View south from summit deck. At times clouds obscured view.

The obligatory pose. Had the summit to ourselves for several minutes.

On descent, looking back at one of the tunnels. Definitely a wilderness feel here, even on a road bike.


Double-Dipping Dilema

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I've discussed "double-dipping" here before, some time ago. It's always been in the context of refusing to let go of the cycling season as the transition to snow sports begins. Well, this year I suffer from the malady on the other side of the pendulum swing. It is hard to let go of the Nordic ski season.

Double-dipping refers to doubling up on long duration workouts chocked full of intensity. The last few weekends have been burying me. I'd arrive at the start of a new workweek in a catatonic state. Not a bad thing necessarily, being properly anesthetized for the stressful environment that work is. But it is sub-optimal from a training perspective I suspect.

Double-dipping weekends go like this. Pummel myself on skis or bike the first day, usually solo, getting finely tuned dose I what I perceive is needed. Then on the second day, join a group activity, of which most are sporting fresh legs and jonesing for a hard workout. 4300 feet vertical on skis Saturday, then group hammerfest on snowmobile trails Sunday? Yep, that will put you in a hole. Or how about 4000ft of solo threshold work on the bike on Friday, then hit sticky snow on skate skis with two others on Saturday. That works too. I must really like those catatonic Mondays. It has become the Hill Junkie way.

Upper Snows at Waterville Valley on March 28, 2015. Photo by Skogs.

Clinging on to winter this season certainly has not been an act of desperation. Much of New England still looks like winter wonderland. It's not as if the dry mountain bike trails beckon. Heck, it could be another month before snow melts on north facing slopes. It snowed lightly all day over much of New England on Saturday. Even though skiing moist powder at Waterville Saturday was very hard work, it sure would have beat riding the wet, messy roads. The roads were even treacherous in spots. Many accidents heading up to Waterville Valley in the morning.

Dave, HJ and Skogs on a very wintry March 28. Photo by Skogs.

I'll be heading down to North Carolina in a week for "spring training camp" with three others. Hoping for warmer, drier weather than two years ago when I went down there. It will certainly be warmer and less messy than around here. I do hope to ski one more time when I get back, a final double-dipping weekend!


Final Ride: Tucson Mountain Park

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

For the final ride of our trip last Saturday, Isaac and I hit Tucson Mountain Park (TMP) and the adjacent Robles Trails. Local's do variants of a big loop connecting these places called the TMP Big Loop. Our ride doesn't quite tip the scale as big, but it was non-trivial no less, especially after climbing Kitt Peak on dirt first thing in the morning.

We fueled up on gas station food heading back from Kitt Peak to TMP. Yes, the Fat Doug that still lurks in the Hill Junkie managed to corrupt Isaac, who is usually much more careful with his diet than I am. This ultimately became my own undoing, as I didn't eat enough and didn't pick up enough calories for the next four hours of rugged riding.

The loop I planned would head south, cross Ajo Rd in the 4ft culvert, hit much of Robles including sections I haven't ridden before, then cross back under Ajo Rd in the 6ft culvert into TMP. The Robles trail system is much newer than TMP, so the trails are relatively buff and designed with mountain biking in mind. In other words, they are wicked pleasurable to ride. I was feeling pretty ragged though, having ridden longer than Isaac the day before and already had 2+ hours in my legs from Kitt Peak.

After crossing back into TMP, we climbed the Cat Mtn trail. I had ridden this once before with Dave, James and Mike. Even though I was on a 29er this time, it wasn't any easier. I suffered mightily with several forced dismounts. This is one of the more techy trails in TMP. It is an important connector in creating a nice loop with Robles. Otherwise I'd probably avoid it. Isaac had far less difficulty than me, and for a bit I wondered if he was going to leave me for coyote bait.

After linking up a few classic trails, we hit some of the west side cruiser trails that I've never been on. I was a little concerned on two fronts. a) bonking spectacularly and b) running out of daylight. Actually, I was worried about a) happening first and that causing b) to happen. I completely lack judgement in these matters. And cajoling from Isaac didn't help. He had a less than optimal day the day before and wanted to see where the Hill Junkie's breaking point was. It was our last ride of the trip after all. So we headed all the way out on Ironwood trail, which was more miles than I estimated. Of course, from the far point it was a better part of 1000ft of climbing back to the high point of the ride.

To speed things up a bit, we took paved Gates Pass Rd up to the Yetman trail instead of one of the trails. I was completely destroyed by this point, out of food, nursing the last two ounces of water for the last hour. Yetman was way more hike-a-bike than I remember. This was one of the first trails I rode here in 1999 during my first visit to Tucson on business. The trails I hit back then were good enough for me to fall in love with the place and to keep me coming back most years since. But time has not been kind to this trail, which may go back many decades and not designed with today's knowledge.

It was mostly downhill back to the car from the top. I was seeing cross-eyed in my glycogen depleted state and just had to avoid crashing on the insanely risky descent. Isaac cleaned the whole thing like it was nothing. I hesitated on one set of big granite stairs and dismounted. Soiled my chamois in several other sections.

I had heard much of the Yetman wash was rerouted, an undertaking that took years to get approved. The trail used to follow and chris-cross the wash, often in 6" deep lose stones and sand. The new reroute, which took the trail up out of the wash, was fabulous.  Nice flow and likely very sustainable.

Due to my poor map reading skills in a bonked state, I made a navigation blunder in finding the easiest way back to the car. I took us back up a couple hundred foot wall of chunder that sucked to descend at the beginning of the ride. Of course, Isaac scooted right up it. I capitulated and sobbed instead.  Don't think I ever reached that level of wrecked-ness on a trip.  This ride bumped us up to six hours for the day.

For the trip, I logged 31.5hrs in the six full riding days. That is a new all-time record for me. I've ridden 25+ hours several times on previous trips, but never came close to breaking 30 hours. Factor in how rugged much of the terrain is around Tucson and how little riding I did leading up to this trip, I rightfully ought to be wrecked.  We had perfect weather the whole time. New trails were explored almost every day.  We never got to ride the 100k AZT loop north of Tucson, but that can wait for another time. We hit everything else and then some. One of my best trips yet to the desert.

This might be 36th Street trail in TMP

Casabel loop in Robles

Isaac at top of Cat Mountain trail in TMP

View of Mt Lemmon and part of Tucson from Cat Mtn trail

On Cat Mtn trail, photo by Isaac


Kitt Peak the Dirty Way

Sunday, March 15, 2015

On our final day of the trip, Isaac and I decided on a double-header day. Actually, it was more of my choosing, but to my detriment later in the day. Kitt Peak is a popular roadie climb that gains about 3700ft in 12 miles less than an hour southwest of Tucson. I've ridden it once before on a hardtail MTB when there was 100mph wind up top, which was also socked in with clouds. It was wicked windy Friday morning in town, so I feared a repeat at the summit, except for the clouds. It was a mint bluebird sky day.

Riding full-sus bikes up big paved climbs ain't all that much fun. I found in the Strava heat map a faint track going up a jeep road to the summit. Same vert in a lot less miles. That looked sweet. Zero cars, more wildlife (there are mountain lion sightings here), and maybe a little more sheltered from the wind.

At the base, I realized I forgot long layers, including a windshell. Crap. With the wind and soaking wet reaching 7000ft, I would freeze in minutes. The last time I came up here in February, there was snow at the summit. What to do... Improvise. I had a wicking VT50 tech t-shirt. Zero wind block, but it was something. I also has a ripped apart Watershed Wahoo cotton t-shirt from about 10 years ago we were using for a chain rag. Nasty dirty, it stunk, but it was something too. It went into the camelbak. I had nothing for the arms.

Isaac cut his ride short the day before, so I suspect he was feeling more chipper than I was. Why was I starting out another long day with almost 4000ft of climbing again? The jeep road gained vertical steeply and persistently. For the first half, you could see how dramatically vertical was gained by looking down on the car. It helped take the mind off suffering. We started at about 3200ft.

At about 5000ft, Isaac lets out the most girlish of squeals and swerves violently into my path. I freaked too. Was it a rattler? No. He almost flattened a Gila monster. It didn't move until he was almost on it, then it moved quickly to defend itself. Second Gila monster of the trip, and I wouldn't expect to see one that high. It was more brilliantly colored than the others I've seen.

We crested a false summit, more like a notch really, to the south facing side of the mountain. Now we could see the observatories up top, still way the heck up there. The road was glorious climbing. It was not gated, but posted emergency use only. Thus no vehicles.

Only when we gained the final few hundred feet did the temperature really begin to plummet. So windy you had to brace yourself too, when standing.  Kitt Peak is a sky island, which are sprinkled all over Arizona. Sky islands are massive mountains that just randomly poke out of the desert floor, not part of any mountain range. I donned my tech t and ragged t for the chilly descent.

The descent was treacherous as we bombed in and out of nooks and crannies. You never could tell which way a random gust was going to hit you. At times the headwind was so strong we were forced to pedal down 8% grade!

That was a great 21 mile loop, one I'd readily do again. With Kitt Peak, we hit the big three in Tucson, which includes Lemmon and Hopkins. This mornings track.  For the afternoon, we hit Tucson Mountain Park (TMP) with a foray into Robles Trails. Isaac dragged me to hell on that loop, which I'll have to share later.

Starting out, summit on right, long benchcut through center

Gila monster at 5000ft

A lot of double-digit grades looking a blue

Cresting the ridge, the summit area 1500ft above comes into view.

View from big dome looking down on paved descent

Hypothermia prevention. I smelled like a grease rag the rest of the day.

From near summit, looking down on upper 1500ft of climbing

The descent is non-stop carving into nooks and crannies.


More AZT Goodness

Friday, March 13, 2015

With too many hours in too few days in our legs, I drafted an impromptu route in Strava's Route Builder for today's ride. Neither of us had a 100k-er in us, a loop I had hoped to hit on this trip that entails 8000ft of climbing on one of the most remote sections of the Arizona Trail (AZT). So instead, we hit a portion of the AZT just east of town that I've ridden twice and is good stuff.

Heading out on Redington Rd, Isaac spotted a Gila monster on the edge of the road. Maybe good thing we spotted it and spooked it back into the desert. Would have ended up a very dead Gila monster. Lot of interesting critters out here.

Heading up dirt Redington Rd, Isaac drifted back. Hmmm, I wasn't feeling particularly spunky, but I wasn't feeling as awful as the day before either. Maybe it was Isaac's day to finally hit the wall. I was totally cool with an easy day after the big mountain days this week.

I hadn't ridden out to Chiva Falls in a long time, so our route peeled off Redington Rd after gaining 1500ft to head through "The Chute." I vaguely remember this from maybe 10 years ago. I think I walked a bunch of it back then. Some white knuckle skidding down bare rock and chunder for sure. We both rode all of it. Much gnarly climbing and descending ensued on jeep track out to Chiva Falls. Was cleaning all of it, sometimes just barely. High pucker factor on some of the downs.

The baseline track I laid out visited Chiva Falls and then looped up around above it. This entailed a hike-a-bike, and Isaac was ok not doing that, being on the cusp of provoking susceptible injuries. The falls were nice, with recent rain there was fair amount of water flowing (often dry this time of year).

Isaac was confident the entire planned ride was not in his interest today, so after hitting the first portion of the AZT, he'd head back on Redington Rd where the AZT crosses it. He was cool with me continuing, having an e-book to read at the car.

The next section of the AZT, called the Bellota Trail, is some of the finest rideable trail in the greater Tucson area. It offers technically challenging terrain but excellent flow all the while high up with panoramic views of the Santa Catalina and Rincon mountains. There were huge areas ablaze with blue-violet flowers as far as you could see. Aromatic too.

All good things come to an end. The planned route followed the AZT up and over the pass to the Mt Lemmon Hwy. I had done this once with Dave. It involves extensive hike-a-bike. I forgot just how much.  Fortunately, I was not feeling tired. The one pitch alone gained almost 700ft, about 90% of which I had to push/carry my bike. I need to note here, once and for all, that I don't need to do that hike again. There is a bailout to Redington Rd before reaching this climb, which means you don't have to do the full Bellota Trail to hit all of the best part of it. Still though, the descent on the other side of the pass to the Mt Lemmon Hwy is mostly rideable for me. The remaining 2000ft plummet back to the car on pavement is a great way to end a ride.

We never saw another person while off-road. There is so much open space in this area chocked full of Jeep and ATV trails that are fun to MTB. Challenging terrain with great scenery. Plus at 4000-5000ft elevation, it is about 10 degrees cooler up there than in town too. It was a windy day with perfect temps. I finished with 44mi in 4.8hrs with almost a vertical mile of climbing.

Gila Monster. About the size of my forearm.

Isaac rounding one of many switchbacks on Redington Rd.

About 1200ft up Redington Rd looking across the city to Tucson Mtn Park

Jeep track en route to Chiva Falls. "Way steeper than it looks."

Chiva Falls. Is this really in Tucson?!

Bellota Trail #15

Lots of contouring on the Bellota/AZT trail

Wildflowers as far as you can see

Selfie on Bellota/AZT

One of at least 20 switchbacks on the Bellota hike-a-bike

Looking down on the Bellota trail from near the top of the hike-a-bike with what
I think is Mica Mtn in background


  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP