Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bellota Trail epic ride

I just downloaded the demo version of TopoFusion. Oh my gosh is it fun! I downloaded it and started clicking away (too excited to read any directions). Very easy to use. And the best part is, it can take files from my Forerunner 305 and put it on a real map! No more cheesy maps from Garmin's training center! I think I shall be purchasing TopoFusion soon.

On Saturday I decided to do the Bellota trail from the Catalina Hwy side. For some reason, if I'm not racing on the weekend I find other ways to punish myself. And I dragged Zac along, so that he could enjoy the punishment too. Here's where we rode that day (note fancy topo map from TopoFusion!):
In a nutshell we started at our house at Soldier Trail and Ft. Lowell, rode up to Catalina Hwy, climbed the road up Mt. Lemmon to Molino Basin, climbed over the saddle, took Bellota trail to FR 36, climbed the death climb on FR 36, descended down Redington Road to Tanque Verde, Tanque Verde to Wentworth, and Wentworth through to Ft. Lowell and back home. The map kinda almost looks like Texas. We considered descending down Milagrosa, but I wasn't happy with my pedals so decided to do the section of the Arizona Trail on the Bellota trail that we hadn't done yet.

Here's the black & white 3D map of the start of the climb up Mt. Lemmon (looking north):
And if you spin around and look south, here's the rest of the climb up the road and the climb up the saddle (the saddle is in red):
Ok, time for pics. I decided to take armor to wear, depending on what trails we ended up on. Here it is all packed nice and tidy on my pack:
Proof that we did ride the road up and didn't shuttle:

Zac at the turn at Molino Basin, ready to leave the road and start the trail:

The start of this section of the Arizona Trail, with the saddle climb looming in the background:
View of the road from the saddle:
Rest break at the saddle:
View looking down the other side of the saddle:
Zac starting the descent:
Me starting the descent:

Towards the bottom:

The rock cairn in the background leads to the La Milagrosa trail. We decided to continue on and stay on the Bellota section of the AZ Trail.
Zac forging the river:
This section of the AZ Trail had tons of wildflowers blooming. It was also the first time we saw other people on the AZ Trail. There were 2 mountain bikers going the opposite direction, and later 2 hikers also going west. Nice to see the trail getting used by all.

On the AZ Trail map there was something called "The Lake". Wonder if this was it?
The end of this section of the AZ Trail:
At the end of the singletrack we decided to climb out on FR 36. We had done this road before, which has a horrible climb that seems to go forever. And each time I'm on this dirt road it's hot and I'm low on water. Way in the distance you can see part of the climb:
FR 36 intersects Redington Road at Mile 10. We stopped at the OHV staging area to remove our armor, eat some more food and use the restrooms. Then it was 8 miles of dirt road. Most of it was downhill, though the few uphill climbs on the road were not fun at this point.

We took Redington to the pavement of Tanque Verde, and it was pavement for the rest of the way home. On Wentworth I gave Zac what was left of my Gatorade in my water bottle, since he was out of water. We turned onto Ft. Lowell and I hit air in my Camelbak. "I'm out of water, the ride is over" I told Zac. Perfect timing. We were less than 2 miles from the house when I ran out. I had filled my 100 oz water bladder all the way that morning, and carried another 20 oz of Gatorade on the bike.

Overall we covered 30 miles in 4.5 hrs of rolling time. I immediately crashed on the couch after the ride with cold Gatorade and Girl Scout cookies.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bug Springs and Molino Trail ride

Saturday Zac and I planned for a longer mountain bike ride on some of the trails on Mt. Lemmon. We left early in the morning from our house and started the climb up the road. Leslie joined us for the road portion of the ride. Many mountain bikers shuttle the trails (drive to the top of the trail) but I've ridden the road so much on my road bike, I couldn't bring myself to shuttle.

I had never done the Bug Springs trail, so we rode up to Mile 11.5 and the trailhead. We said goodbye to Leslie as she got to enjoy the downhill on the road while we started the climb. The trail starts with a horrible hike-a-bike up a steep hill covered in waterbars. Then there's a short ride down before another long hike-a-bike up a waterbar covered hill. Finally, after a few miles, the trail opens up into rolling singletrack. For how much hike-a-bike there was, I didn't enjoy it on the bike. But I will go back and trail run it.

After Bug Springs, we cut across the road and rode the Molino Trail, from Prison Camp down to the Molino Campground. Word on the mountain bike forums was that a hiking group had come in and sanitized the trail. As we rode we could see large areas where rocks were removed. The trail is much less sustainable now, and I have a feeling much of it will be damaged when the monsoon rains hit.

By the time we hit the campground it was getting warm, and our legs were worn out from the climb up the road. So we hit the road and flew down the hill. It's much more fun to ride my mountain bike down the mountain as it's much more stable than my tri bike. We finished up with the last 3 miles down Soldier Trail to our house, and rolled in just as it was getting really warm out. Total rolling time was just over 4 hours, with 30 miles covered. Lots of stops for resting and picture taking.

Zac and Leslie starting the climb up the mountain:
Me and Leslie at a rest stop at Molino:

Thimble Peak from the 7 cataracs stop:

We noticed an old, crashed van in the gorge:

Zac at the trail sign at the start of Bug Springs:

The horrible hike-a-bike:

More hike-a-bike:

Zac at the top of the hike:
In the shade of the trees:

Some cool rock pics:

Finally on the rolly singletrack: