Monday, December 29, 2008

AZ chunkfest. Really.

Seemingly ages ago (but really measured in days) the snow and cold finally came to stay and ended an almost 10-month long stretch of dry-dirt riding here in the Grand Valley. That may have been the longest ever continuous stretch of dirt riding for me, and although I knew the snow was inevitable I wasn't quite ready to be done riding dirt.

So I didn't stop.

I needed one last chunk fix before diving headlong into snow mode. Leaving town the view was depressing from a dirt-centric perspective (near Cisco, Utah):


Moab wasn't any better:


In fact, I'd learn that St. George and even Vegas had gotten pounded--with snow--from the same storm that ended our riding season. Driving across Monument Valley was awesome, as always, but didn't give me the warm fuzzies WRT riding:


Flagstaff was in full-on blizzard mode when I drove through at 30mph, and I began to wonder if anywhere in the US still had fun dry-dirt riding.

I needn't have worried. Woke up in Phoenix to 42 degrees and sun. Momentarily worried about whether to install the arm and knee warmers, but ultimately decided they were superfluous. Temps crept into the 60's for much of the short daylight hours, and that was just about perfect.

Keep in mind that anytime it's sub 90 degrees Scott wears knee warmers...

We had a blast playing over and over on the low-speed chunk of National. This would have been a five star day even forgetting about the snow I had just escaped. Can't ever seem to get enough of this kind of riding.

Scott descending Holbert.


As usual, what the pics cannot convey is the steepness of the trails, the amount of exposure involved, the sharpness of the rocks, the depth of the holes, and the unbelievable amount of vegetation all designed to remove blood from your vessel.

More Holbert:


We finished with Holbert, then worked our way over to Alta. Appropriately named as it gets you up there, and quick, via lots of nice bench cut trail connected with fun-yet-tough ascending switchbacks:






Rare (at least to me) red barrels. Did I mention the prickly vegetation?


Cruising along the ridgeline there was lots to see--not that we were able to look up:










Did I mention the steepness? Exposure?


This one does not, at first glance, appear to be all that steep.


We were both fairly puckered when descending it, especially at the lip-of-death-switchback. When we wrapped a bit more around the hillside and got a view back I snapped this shot to show a bit better perspective:


Still, pics never quite show how steep things really are...

Neither do vids:



More ridgeline cruising:


We finished up Alta, wrapped back around on lower National to the road, then climbed the road (waning daylight and even waning-er legs made that choice just fine with me) back to Telegraph Pass.


Then back onto National for some fun, fast, flowy, and of course chunky descending back toward our start.


No pics of it, but the Waterfall and especially the spine therein were highlights.

What an awesome trail.

We finished right at sunset and were thrilled to be done.


Dinner at a gyro joint followed by a drive to Tucson completed the evening, but not the trip. There was much, much more fun to be had...

MC

P.S. Scott's version of the day.