Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tucson Bikepacking Loop

After a few failed attempts at convincing some friends to go bikepacking this weekend in the Gila/AZT area, I finally decided just to put together a Tucson Bikepacking Loop. The premise being that you could leave from your house, connect some trails with dirt roads, and still be able to bail. This allowed some friends to come out and join me, along with an occasional coffee or restaurant break.

I set off from my house at the perfect time. Seems as though (a much needed) rain was in the forecast for Monday-Wednesday.



Riding up the CDO Bike Path, I was slated to meet Jim at Starbucks at 9:30am. After a quick coffee, we headed over to Catalina State Park to 50 Year Trail, Upper 50 and Cherry Tank.



Sonoraurus anyone? We rode up and around it while venturing up to Cherry Tank. I half jokingly commented to Jim that we should go ride down. Perhaps next time.



Photo by Jim Kirk

After Cherry Tank, we continued by dropping to Charleau Gap and over to Sammy's in Catalina for lunch. 3 Burritos and a small pizza for $16. That is a ganga.



Edison Rd turns into Rail X. Jim thought it would be a good photo op to stand in front of the Rail X sign. Can't say I have ever been this way (usually come through Rancho Vistoso on bike).



Photo by Jim Kirk

We were 40 miles in and Jim decided that it was time to bail to the Rancho Vistoso via the Powerline Rd.

I continued on up Crow Canyon. Good things are awaiting this route. More singletrack is one of them. I guarantee that the words Wild Burro and Wild Mustang will become part of the Tucson mountain biking vernacular in a few months.




For now, you are stuck trying to ride the wash. It was a combination of ride and walk, glee and frustration.



At the intersection of Alamo/Wild Burro/Wild Mustang, I headed north up to Wild Mustang.



Wild Mustang is one of the best, well-built trails in northern Tucson. When you connect it with Upper Javelina, it is steep like Bug Springs with a dash of La Milagrosa when you descend it. Did that spur you on to ride it?

My tracks were the only bike tracks that day, possibly the entire week.



Besides a well-built trail, Upper Javelina offers quite the view of the Catalinas



Looking west toward the Tucson Mountains



I headed to bed at about 8pm only to be awakened by some javelina running around in the bushes. Pitter patter pitter patter...I could hear them walking. As I got up, the walk quickly became a gallup as they ran away.

I was meeting Max at Starbucks on Ina/I-10 at 8am. The uncomplete, Avra Valley to Tangerine Rd was my connector to the semi-new Santa Cruz bike path between Ina and Avra Valley.

After a delicious cranberry and orange scone and coffee, we headed up Picture Rocks Rd to the Saguaro National Park



The common theme of this trip: the saguaro




and over to Brown Mountain.



Dropping off some of my bags was a good idea. I was thinking about how harder it would be to clean some of Brown or Golden Gate with more gear.



We headed over to Gates Pass Trail, veering off to up Golden Gate. Not sure when I last went up, but it was a blast. Some fun ledges in there, well, until you get near the top and have to hike.



Max peeled off at Yetman Wash...moments later Scott rolled up. I have swell mountain biking friends. Although most of them were unable to do an overnighter, each wanted to come out and join me.

We headed over to Robles






Photo by Scott Morris

and back to Starr Pass before we went our separate ways. I took the Santa Cruz Bike Path to the new train tracks (that they have not put in yet) and over to the Rillito Bike Path.

107.33 miles with 13,063 ft of climbing, 17 hours moving time.

5 comments:

Neilius said...

Awesome ride. I always love reading your blog posts.

One logistical question. What did you take with you for overnight, and how did you carry it?

I'd love to try something like that but can't figure out where to put the kitchen sink ;-)

YuriB said...

Nice loop. Gotta come try it.

ScottM said...

Nice macro shots. Great idea for a loop -- sometimes you need look no further than your own backyard for adventure.

ScottM said...

Oh, Neilius, check out http://bikepacking.net

Lots of info there for lightweight singletrack touring!

Chad said...

Neilius, what Scott said. Wealth of info there. In fact, you can see my singlespeed setup if you look under personal setups:

http://www.bikepacking.net/individual_setups/chads-azt-300-ss-setup-2009/

Next time I head out bikepacking, I'll take a shot of the geared bike + gear and post it on my blog.

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