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Riding until Dusk April 2, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Events, Mountain Biking, trails.
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On Wednesday evening after work, Jack, Kent Toby and I rode the long grind (5.7 miles) up Thumb Butte Rd. to the overlook.  My legs were still sore from the Adventure Race on Saturday, but I didn’t know it until I started to climb….ow! We got to the Skull Valley overlook just in time to enjoy an awesome sunset.

From there we rode the descent that the Wiskey Off Road mtb race takes.  The trail 368 single track heads west up the hill from the overlook, then goes NE.  There was a dead tree down across it right at the one pretty wicked drop that is on it, so now the trail goes around and avoids the drop.  This trail is pretty chewed up and in worse condition than I remember from last year’s race. There was another tree down across it just before it becomes a wider track, and Toby and I managed to pull the tree aside while we waited for Jack.  Just before turn onto the 9401J (Rock Garden Trail), there is a pretty knarly section of downhill ruts and loose rock and gravel.  I followed Toby’s line down, and we stopped just past the bottom to wait for Kent and Jack.  We could hear Kent giving some direction to Jack near the top, and then we saw Kent coming down it.  Right at the bottom, there is a deep sandy area, and when Kent hit it, he must have been just a little on his front brake, because his front tire slid out to the left, and he couldn’t stay on top of it.  He fell off to the right, landing on his right upper chest and his head and rolling over once from there.  His bike cartwheeled over the top of him, and he ended up in a sitting position beneath a cloud of dust.  We went back to make sure he was okay, and saw that his helmet had done it’s job incredibly well.  He had left a furrow in the ground about a foot wide and 2 feet long that had been dug with his front right side of his helmet!  His face was dirty, and his eyes were full of dust, but he was okay.

We continued down the Rock Garden Trail (which is named after the last pitch on it), fast and furious.  This part of the trail is a two-track that goes down a ridge, and is filled with lots of loose and sharp rock the size of golf balls and racquetballs.  We stopped at the top of the aforementioned Rock Garden to tell Jack about it a little bit, and for Kent to re0tell the story of  “the fat guy” who literally flew past him in the race on this section a couple of years ago.  The Rock Garden was a mess!  It has been chewed to pieces by ATVs or Jeeps or something…..There is no real line down it now, it is just filled with babyheads and boulders with a few truckloads of loose, sharp rock thrown in.  It is steep and full of obsticles that try to stop your front wheel.  Jack found this out, as at one point he was actually riding a nose wheelie, but somehow saved it.

The next turn is onto the 51 and you can usually just bomb it, but we were a little more tentative this time because we weren’t sure what we would find.  Sure enough, coming around an off camber corner, suddenly there was a giant pine tree down and sticking halfway into the track!  The 51 is also in worse shape than I recall.

At the bottom of the 51 we realized we were running out of daylight, so we circumvented part of the Whiskey route to save time.  We rejoined the Whiskey route at the top of the Garden Grove Trail (392).  This section of the trail was in really good shape and was fast and a ton of fun.  There was water in the creek, so we got a little wet at the several crossings.  At one of the crossings, there is a huge dead tree blocking the trail completely.

We popped out onto Thumb Butte Road instead of taking the Miller Creek Trail (362) because it was getting very dark.  We cruise back down to the cars, and left in total darkness.

It was a great ride, and one that we will be doing many times before the Whiskey to get used to the trail, and to condition for the climbing.