Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Alien Run and Mountain View Loops, Aztec, NM

[Previously posted on FB 14-Sept-2016]
There was no point in trying to ride anything with mountains nearby. Forecast was rain everywhere, snow at higher elevations. One of the many redeeming qualities of Durango is you can always head out to the desert around Cortez CO, Farmington NM or Aztec NM and avoid rain/snow. Cortez and Aztec are only 45min away.
I opted for Aztec, trails I've ridden at least three times on past trips. There were more trails there I hadn't ridden yet, so I had a nearly 40mi loop in mind. Forecast wasn't perfect, but at least you won't freeze to death if you get caught in downpour out there. Lightning is still a concern though. Pretty exposed.
Some of the initial loop from the Aztec Sports Complex may have been rogue trail. It was pretty sandy in spots and not that much fun. Once on the Mountain View loop, that stuff was fun. Nice flow, good balance of climbing and short, fast rips down.
Three miles of dirt gas well road connects to the Alien Run loop. The sky was filling in rather quickly. A local (from Durango, avoiding rain just like I was) was just finishing up his loop. I asked if I should be worried about the sky. In summary, he said yeah, a little. Then I told him where I started. Face wrinkles. Kind of like when I do a FOMBA/Bear Brook loop and I tell people in BB I started at FOMBA. I was 15 miles from my car across open desert. Guess maybe I should be more than just a little worried about the sky.
Great, for fourth day in a row now, I'm going to feel rushed to beat the rain. I started hammering the Alien Run loop. At about the furthest point out on the loop, it started spitting rain. I'm 2+ hours from my car across clay desert. I freaked more than just a little. Fortunately it was just a dark cloud that passed by. Later in the ride, it rained a bit harder for a few minutes, but still not enough to grease things up. No thunder either.
The Alien Run loop is like a hybrid between Moab and Fruita trails. Bits of grippy slickrock, lots of steep clay ups and downs. Scenery similar too. Min to max elevation difference on this loop was just under 1000ft.
I finished with about 39mi, 3600ft of climbing, in 4.3hrs moving time. Not my favorite place to ride, but interesting enough to hit once in a while, especially when getting weathered out of high country.
I stopped in town after the ride, and ka-boom. Thunder. Didn't even look much of a cloud. Timed that pretty close.

ATOS - Aztec Trails & Open Space

Human power only. Yay!

There were many interesting ornaments along the route

Random bits of color in the New Mexico desert

Many bits of "slick rock" on Alien Run

Not a believer. Sorry.

You'd think if a space object crashed here there'd be some kind of a dent in the ground...

Another canyon on Outer Limits section of Alien Run that offered optional exposure

A descent heading back on Alien Run.

Short, medium and long loops. First time I did the full Outer Limits extension. 16+ mile loop of pure singletrack.

In on the right, Out on the left. A unidirectional trail.

Glad I opted out of riding in Durango. Looks like they are getting hammered.

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