Tuesday, March 1, 2011

South Mountain...

Get me on that plane and outta this crap weather!
I had the opportunity to do a half day of riding in the Phoenix area over the weekend. I was flying out to the area for work and I thought I’d squeeze in some Desert single track; a welcome change from this cold, snowy and wet Midwestern crap weather we’ve been having. After some research and considering my short window of time (daylight anyway), I chose to ride at South Mountain - per the recommendation of Fish (a local bike wrench known for his backyard pump track). Fish works at LBS Cactus Bikes. When I had called the shop for trail beta, he had giving me some great info and seemed psyched to help.
Desert Heaven
On a side note: I have to give some mad props to Pete of the Earthriders Mountain Bike Club here in KC. I was desperate in my last-minute search for a bike travel case. With only about a day notice Pete coordinated getting me hooked up with a case for my trip, taking the extra ‘above and beyond’ time to make it happen for me. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! The case worked out perfectly!

I land in Phoenix, grab my bike and a rental car and head down to Cactus Bikes to meet up with Fish for some additional, last minute trail info. He busts open Google Earth on the computer and shows me the trail system at South Mountain. This place looks pretty cool and I am getting more psyche by the minute. Fish even hooked me up with a bike stand to get my ride put back together. I also used the shop to change clothes, fill my water bottles and get ready to ride. I was informed that I could hit the trail, riding from the shop and just leave my car in the lot. Sweet.
Fish & Cactus Bikes
After a quick lunch consisting of beans, rice and three fish tacos, I hit the trail. The weather is perfect (cool by Phoenix standards) with temps in the high fifties and a sunny sky. I now start my out-and-back ride on a trail named Desert Classic; truly where I should be. Anytime the word classic is used in a description, I’m game.

With a handful of flowing and fun miles under my belt, I am ready for a quick break to grab some grub and refuel. I stop and join three other riders who appear to be doing the same. After overhearing a brief conversation, I ask the fellas if they are locals. Ends up they are all old high school buddies that have taken about five days to do some riding together. Mone is local, Chad’s from Denver and Rick’s from Chicago. We hit it off pretty well and they ask If I want to join them. I graciously accept.
I follow as we detour from Desert Classic onto a steep climb up to a saddle between two peaks. This is a helluva climb with many step-ups designed more for hikers than mountain bikes; We had to carry our bikes a good hundred yards or so to gain the saddle. Once at the saddle we end up on an incredible stretch of road that winds its way to higher elevations. This is the kind of road you’d see downhill skateboarders flying down at ludacris speed. As we gain the summit we take a right to regain single track; a more technical trail, I think this ones called National or Mormon? Pretty sweet and flowy, ups and downs, lots of drops, rocks and potential for big crashes. I remember a pretty sick area called the waterfall, which I lacked the huevos to do on two-wheels. Awesome. Still a bit of climbing here and there but for the most part just a freaking enjoyable pleasure ride in the desert.
Our Route...Approx. 16 miles

Elevation of our route
We end the ride back at Mone’s truck and pop open a few beers to quench our thirst, talk about the ride and chill. At this point we all decide that the $20 all-u-can-eat Sushi place that Mone recommends is our next destination. A solid hour later, we have downed over $200 of fine sushi and are stuffed beyond belief. What a great day!

One of the many plates we devoured

My new friends and I shake hands and part ways. I head back to the hotel room, take my bike apart and stuff it back into it’s case, toss back a couple beers, shower and fall into a deep and restful sleep.

It was a lot of work to take my bike with me on this super short trip, but it was SO worth it! I am looking forward to riding with these fellas again sometime soon and will always be open to hauling my bike around on an airplane for a few hours of pure bliss. Do it!

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