Melting into the Mountains November 30, 2011Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Mountain Biking, trails.
Tags: Arizona, BCT, Black Canyon Trail, mountain bike, Mountain Biking, mtb, Prescott
On Sunday, Tom and I drove our vehicles down to the Gloriana Mine trail head of the Black Canyon Trail that is near the Bumble Bee road exit on I-17. I put my bike behind his on this bike rack, loaded my gear into his Supra, and we headed back up to the Old Sycamore trail head where we would start our ride.
When we parked up on Old Sycamore and started to unload our bikes, Tom noticed his front tire was flat, in fact it was more than just flat, it had melted! The way his bike was sitting on the rack, it was too close to his exhaust pipe, and during the trip up the hill from Bumble Bee Road, he had unintentionally vulcanized the side of his nearly new (and expensive) tire. There was smiley faced shaped hole in it and his tube had popped.
What to do? Do we cancel the ride and drive back down to get my truck? Do we drive into Prescott Valley and see if he can buy a new tire? NO! We try to figure out a way to repair it. Tom put a section of his old tube around his spare tube and then sleeved the tire with a dollar bill. He pumped it up and it appeared like it was holding. A few pedals around the parking area and a couple of bunny hops and it was still holding, so it should hold for a 25 mile ride through rocks and cactus right???? What the heck, we were up for an adventure.
Nearly 3 miles in, we came to a gate near a big cairn topped with a pile of cow bones. It appeared that the dollar bill was pushing through the sidewall of the tire…..Hmm I guess the Stan’s that had leaked out of his first melted tube had soaked the dollar bill making it weak and susceptible to tearing. Tom decided to try a different method of repair. He stuck 3 self adhesive repair patches to the inside of the tire, overlapping one another so they covered the entire melted gash and reinforced each other. Then refolded the dollar bill and put it back in, then the section of old tube, then the new tube……
It was ugly, and we had no idea if it would hold, but we bold set out where no melted tire had gone before!
The ride itself was outstanding. The weather was perfect, and the trail was not muddy at all. We stopped where the BCT crosses the road near Cordes Ranch to take a look at the repair and it appeared to be holding just fine.
The next section of the BCT down to the Hidden Treasure Mine trail head is one of my favorite sections because of the way the trail meanders down the sides of the narrow Antelope Creek Canyon. The thin, loose granite trail with the super steep and rocky exposure demands concentration, as there is a big penalty for failure.
We stopped for a snack and to check the tire again at the Hidden Treasure Mine trailhead. So far so good. We then headed out onto the really fun section of the BCT that climbs up and over some foothills on the way to the bridge near the town of Bumble Bee.
Here we were, 20 miles into a ride on a very popular trail, on a perfect Sunday afternoon, and we hadn’t seen a soul. Crazy. We started the short but punishing half mile climb up the jeep road, knowing that the truck was only 5 miles away now. At the top of the jeep road we stopped to check the tire, and to talk about the very different trail types we had already been on, and what was yet to come. I agreed with Tom that the next 4.5 miles of the BCT were probably the most technical miles on the entire 65 mile length of the the trail.
As we rode along this section, the shadows grew long and my legs were telling me they needed to be done soon. With about a mile to go, we caught up with two other Prescottonians, Billy and Christi who were doing an out and back from the Gloriana Mine trail head. After we went by them, we were like horses running to the barn. We pounded out that last mile as if it were our first, anticipating putting the bikes away and having a nice cold beer.
When we rolled up to the truck, neither of us could believe that the repair job on that melted-open tire had made it through 25 miles of rough terrain.
It was and adventure all right, and it turned out better than we could have hoped.