Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Canyon del Oro Epic

The up-and-over Lemmon ride has come to represent what an endurance ride from your house looks like. It is a tradition of sorts, done ever year for the past 4 years. There was first the Red Ridge, later the Samaniego and now we have the Canyon del Oro.

After I did the ride this past Saturday, I was talking to my Grandpa Thomas on Mother's Day about the history of Canyon del Oro. Being a native AZ and a miner, my grandfather is often a wealth of information for anything related to AZ. He was actually sent out by Magma Copper to scout out the CDO wash for a possible mine in the early in his career. He smirked as he continued to narrate the story. It seems as though he came across a lady that owned a cabin next to the perennial stream. In fact, as they approached the cabin, they were surprised to hear a piano as the cabin was pretty remote. He even remembered her name. We checked on Google Maps and found a few cabins on the lower setion of CDO. It's great to see how for generations people have been visiting areas, you will never be the first to see a particular area. That said, it can be a first for you.

No matter how you get up to CDO Trail, whether by foot or bike, it is a special place.

I had planned to wake up at 4:30am on Saturday and ride CSP and meet Max near his house on Oracle. I got what I thought was a wake up call from Max only to hear that he was out because of some vomitting. Great. Now what?
I went back to bed, not really sleeping until the phone rang again. It was Max and the ride was back on, albeit very late. I rode from my house and met Max at 7am.

 We headed up Lemmon, only to skip Prison because of the heat. I was trying to catch Max and riding as fast as I could. There is something to be said riding up Lemmon with a FS, fully loaded bag. So much so that it tends to get comments from people. A few of my favorites:

"You are insane."
"Are you doing the Tour Divide?" (haha my favorite, how did he know about TD?!)
"Wow, you going to the top? You are wickedly strong."
"I can't believe you are riding a bike on this (Marshall Gulch section)!"

If they only really knew the guy in front of me and how much shape he was in.
I rode up Biggie, down Secret, 1918, Sunset and Marshall Gulch. Not seeing any bike tracks, I knew Max had taken the road to the store. I am a sucker for singletrack, even when it is ridiculously harder.

General Store classics....Fritos, trail mix, fudge, bars...wait, no Coors Lt? I was in some serious pain and beer was not even on the menu.

We rested at the store for about 30 minutes and made the final push to the store. I was in some serious pain having sped up the mountain while trying to catch Max.

A few changes to the headset on Max's new titanium Seven. We bombed down Meadows and later Sutherland.

If you look closely you can see a guy weed-wacking in the top left corner. Bufflegrass. Work is always good on this mountain. Plenty of days to join in on the fun coming up.

The trail has been recently brushed by the Forest Service.

About 1/3 of the trail looks like this, especially for the first 2 miles (5.4 miles the turnoff to Red Ridge Trail). The trail drops down to the lower tree line and criss-crosses a perennial stream about 15 times. It is beautiful, perfect riding for the summer time. The adventure level for this trail is high, just like Samaniego and Red Ridge.

We rested for about 45 minutes next to the stream. It was one of those moments where you wish you could just take a nap to wait for the sun to set. But, we had places to be, which meant a bike out to Charleau Gap at 3pm in the 90s.

Dialing the new bike in....this guy is ready for the Tour Divide. I guarantee he will be in the top of the field.

Oracle Ridge and Red Ridge, as seen L to R. Sadly, I know next year will might have to do the Oracle Ridge Epic.

The last bit of road down Charleau was a blast (so much so that I just rode it today again, 5/15).

Max getting some sweet air on a water bar.

We bombed down Cherry and 50 year back to the house. Brilliant and painful.

The CDO Epic in numbers:

81 miles
11, 587 feet of climbing
10.5 hours moving time

What I would do differently: start the ride earlier, do prison and Catalina State Park, take a nap down by the stream at the end of CDO and ride up (see mile 68 below) to Charleau Gap as the sun is setting. Oh, and maybe leave the big camera at home. Max was too fast to really use it to its potential.

1 comment:

ScottM said...

Oracle Ridge Epic... oooh, why did you have to say that?

Thx for lugging the big camera -- great pics. I agree wholeheartedly on the nap and near sunset climb of the gap.


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