Tag Archives: travel

Out west – days 4, 5, 6, 7

Thursday, Day 4 – sunset adventure with Josiah
After a fun hobo dinner over the campfire, Josiah and I set out on a sunset adventure. We took the new trail I found to the Bright Angel lodge and then connected with Hermit Rd, which is open only to shuttles and cyclists. I pushed Josiah up the big opening hill before we took a gatorade break at the first overlook point. Then we continued on eventually making it to Maricopa point, which is closed to cyclists. BUT, as we started walking our bikes along the trail, we realized there was nobody there! So we hopped back on and rode the paved trail all the way out to the lookout point where we got the picture and video below:
Josiah showing the view looking west … note we were able to ride to the edge of the canyon because Maricopa was empty!

Friday, Day 5 – worst ride ever – Grand Canyon to Flagstaff
The views were great, but there was a lot of traffic, and the wind was horrendous. 20+mph steady headwind with gusts up to 50mph. Once I finally made it to Valle, I was hoping for a cross-tailwind, but instead it was just a nasty knock your front wheel sideways crosswind. As the road climbed gradually towards the San Francisco peaks, the wind got increasingly worse. Eventually, going across the Kendrick Park meadow, the wind was sustained at 30-40mph with gusts probably in the 60mph range. It is easily the worst wind I have ever ridden in. The only redeeming part of the ride is that after about a mile or two of descending from the high pt of 8046′, the road had bent enough to give me a tailwind. So I had a fast downhill with tailwind to end the ride. I made it to the Snowbowl climb turnoff ahead of Kristine, so after waiting a few minutes I headed up the climb even though I was tired and out of food. Shortly after starting the climb, Kristine drove up so I gladly called it a day – I had had enough of the wind. The views were great – see these pics from Hermit Rd in the grand canyon and much later in the ride approaching the San Francisco peaks.
View looking west from Hopi Pt at the start of my ride
The San Francisco peaks outside of flagstaff

Saturday, Day 6 – exploring Mummy Mountain and Camelback Mountain in Phoenix
We drove down to Phoenix later in the day on Friday arriving while everyone was at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding. The next morning Josiah and I went for an hour long ride exploring the very cool canal trail and tunnels while Kristine did a 5K running race with her cousin, Kimberly. When they got back, my uncle Jim helped guide me through the canal tunnel system over towards Camelback Mountain and Mummy Mountain where I tried to find every way possible to get high up on the mountains. There were many mansions built into the side of the hill with super long, steep driveways but they were all gated-off private property. Still, the roads leading to the driveway were really fun with several steep sections.
Approaching Camelback Mountain from the west – praying monk on the left
Approaching the “castle” climb on Camelback Mountain

Sunday, Day 7 – South Mountain KOM and North Mountain KOM attempt – 104.5 miles
The ride down Central Ave to South Mountain was relatively easy with a bike lane for most of the way. The route when straight through downtown Phoenix, which was deserted on a Sunday morning. Most of the lights could be timed so that I think I only had to wait at one or two lights. This road takes you directly into the climb. The Strava segment that I had looked at was the one that started at the restrooms so when I passed a parking area that looked like it had restrooms, I drilled it. I was trying to maintain 350 watt average, but after about 5 minutes of this, my average started to slowly come down until I ended up with a time of 24’27” and a 324 watt average. I saw a sign at the entrance that said “Silent Sunday, no motor vehicles” which probably explains why there were hundreds of other cyclists climbing the mountain. It was motivating for me to always have people up ahead to chase. On the way back down, I explored all the side roads and lookouts enjoying the amazing views.
Right to left – Camelback Mountain, Mummy Mountain, Squaw Peak, North Mountain, Thunderbird, Deem Hills
View of the summit climb on South Mountain from the San Juan side road

Later in the afternoon I headed out to meet Uncle Bruce at the Deem Hills park to go mountain biking. Along the way I climbed North Mountain to see if I could set the KOM on it the same day that I set one on South Mountain. Unfortunately, the climb was far too steep and technical and it was all I could do to make it to the top without putting my foot down – ended up third on the KOM. To give you an idea of how steep part of the climb was – there was one stretch of the descent where I was leaned all the way back off the back of the saddle because I felt like I was going to tip over the handlebars if I hit the brakes too hard or hit a rock. Here are a couple pics of North Mountain:

Approaching North Mountain from 7th Avenue
View from the top of North Mountain looking south towards Phoenix with South Mountain in the distance

I continued on up towards Deem Hills and met Uncle Bruce for some awesome desert singletrack riding. We started out by climbing from the parking lot up to the top of one of the northern peak. The climb was pretty steep in parts – particularly in the tight switchbacks. I was able to ride a couple of the switchbacks but had to walk one or two of the others. The trails were rocky in spots, but not overly technical. You could have fun on both the climb and the downhill. Perhaps the thing that stood out the most, though, was all the different kinds of cactus and cholla with the trails clearly visible on the sides of the hills. After we finished riding, Bruce directed me on a much better route that involved a small climb up Thunderbird canyon followed by some very cool canal trails all the way back to 7th avenue.

Desert singletrack in Deem Hills
Deem Hills north climb, part i
Deem Hills north climb, part ii
The final switchback on the way up the north climb

Finally, here is a gallery of some other pics that I took while riding. They are mostly in chronological order with pictures from the sunset with Josiah first and my rides yesterday last – except for some reason the mountain bike pictures in the afternoon are before the road ride pics from the morning.

Out west – days 1, 2, 3, and 4

Day 1 – Birmingham to Mt Magazine – 450 miles
We arrived an hour or so before sunset after driving well over 400 miles from Birmingham. The kids were excited to go for a bike ride around the state park loop to go see the sunset at Cameron Bluffs – found cool trail connecting the campground to the overlook. Analise was really brave to ride her bike down a 15% grassy slope. Josiah felt it was quicker just to hop off and run down the slope with his bike. Beautiful sunset (see timer picture below). We had a nice dinner at the lodge and a good night’s sleep waking up to an absolutely amazing sunrise overlooking the valley 2000 feet below. Here is my favorite picture from Mt Magazine:

Watching the sunset with the kids on top of Mt Magazine – Cameron Bluff overlook

Day 2 – Mt Magazine 2x plus drive to Bernalillo, NM – 830 miles
Rolling descent down to Paris – zero traffic, turn around in Paris – rolling climb back up, realize running out of time so pick up the pace before the top. Zip back down the other side to the low point before Havana … turn around do just below AT effort on the long climb back up. Very cool climb, short hiking trail at slow speed up to the true summit – cat 1 climb. Lunch at the lodge – 830 mile drive to Bernalillo – arrive at 12:30AM, asleep by 1AM

Me at the Arkansas state high point after long KOM effort

Day 3 – Sandia Crest plus drive to Grand Canyon – 425 miles
I picked Bernalillo so I could be close to the Sandia Crest climb. The climb started out as beautiful pavement, but then I saw a sign fairly early on that says “unimproved road ahead, local traffic only”. The pavement was great, though, with cool pueblo neighborhoods and fantastic view of the Sandia Crest peak and all the rocky outcroppings for several miles of the climb so I didn’t think much of it – thought maybe it was an old sign … didn’t believe it.
Then I saw another sign that says road closed for winter proceed at own risk. Shortly after that sign the beautiful pavement transitioned into a rocky, dirt road sometimes steep, basically a rouge roubaix style road except continuing on and on forever (7.5 miles of climbing to be exact). I immediately backed off the pace and picked my line very carefully not wanting to flat in such an isolated area. I passed by the entrance to Sandia Cave where there is a picture of a woman next to a sign that said “unsolved murder 1999″. Most of the climb was rocky, but there were several hard-packed non-rocky dirt sections that were fun, absolute beautiful scenery narrow roads. I lost my gps signal a couple times through the canyons.
After 7.5 miles of the dirt road, I emerged onto NM-536 which was nicely paved and had lots of horseshoe switchbacks on the way up to the crest. It was hard to push any harder than 240-250watts. I’m not sure if it was the altitude or the length of the climb? There was a stunning view at the top of the mountains and crags below and Albuquerque stretched out far below. The gift shop is built at the high point with a radio tower armada immediately adjacent. Amazing views.
No way I was going to do the dirt descent, so I headed all the way back down to 536 to the I40 corridor back into Albuquerque where I called Kristine to coordinate meeting her at an exit ramp (#164) from I40.

From the Super 8 to the Sandia Crest high point – almost 5600 vertical feet – new record climb for me

Warning sign with Sandia Crest in the background

Beautiful scenery on the long dirt climb

Amazing view from the Sandia Crest lookout

Day 4 – Grand Canyon – Kaibab National Forest
Woke up early just after the sunrise … rode with the kids in search of the Grand Canyon. I kid you not – we couldn’t find it! It was pretty obvious which way the canyon was, but all the trails that headed that direction (e.g., through the Shrine of Ages) had “no biking” signs. So we headed up towards another lookout but the kids were exhausted by this point, and the hill was kinda steep. I found out later on my mountain bike ride that we only needed to make it to the top of the hill to get to a nice lookout point. So we headed back down to the cafe for breakfast and then the kids walked over with Kristine and her parents to hike to a lookout. They promised me they would take me over there later, and I headed out on a 60 mile mountain bike ride through the Kaibab National Forest.
The trailhead was about 13.5 miles from the campground so I had a bit of riding on the road to do – but there wasn’t too much traffic, and the road was wide. Eventually I made it to the turn off which immediately turned into a dirt forest service road. After about a mile or so, I made it to the Arizona Trail trailhead which theoretically goes all the way down to the border of Mexico. My plan was to ride out 10-15 miles and turn around to get about 20-30 miles of singletrack practice. The trail was kinda cool because it went through different kinds of terrain. It rolled constantly on short ups and downs with only a few longer downhills and uphills. It was mostly non-technical in terms of boulders or roots, but the rocks and dirt on the trail was loose and the turns tight meaning the speed was kinda slow. I’m sure with more practice you could really fly through it.
After about 10 miles of single track I saw a double track road with a sign that said “bike route” so I left the Arizona Trail and headed on the double track which eventually turned into a forest service road. This road alternated between sections that were sandy and others that were quite rocky (basically a flatter version of the skyway epic course). So after another 10 miles of this, I was tired of getting beat up and turned around bypassing the singletrack and instead taking the forest service road all the way back to the main highway.
This time I stopped to climb the cool fire tower, which is no longer used as a fire tower but instead serves as a great lookout where you have an excellent view not only into the grand canyon but also the surrounding area – it was used as a fire lookout at some point in time so you’d expect it to be able to see for miles and miles in all directions – and I was not disappointed.

Arizona Trail trailhead entrance next to the Grandview Lookout Tower

View of the grand canyon and surrounding area from grandview fire tower

View of the grand canyon from “grandview point” – not exactly near the lookout tower

Analise and Josiah were having dirt bike races through the campground and this was their “podium”

This elk spent the afternoon lounging and eating from the trees at our campsite