First Blood

It happens every year.  Some sort of encounter with the ground to let me know I’m a feeble fragile human…it often is in the springtime when handling skills are at the yearly low…but never before has it come as early as January 8!

The day started much like yesterday, bike pointed up a 3,000′ climb.  There are actually a lot of big  climbs down here in AZ.  If you don’t mind motorcycles, 4 wheelers, 3 wheelers, jeeps, Suburbans (aka mormon assault vehicle), hummers, the smell of castor oil, dune buggies, 6 wheelers, lots of guys in camo shooting stuff in all directions, bow hunters (they seem pretty cool so far), more guys shooting stuff – then southern AZ is your place!  Want to see a war zone?  No need to head to Iraq, just come on down here. 

On the way up there is a lot of cool desert scenery.  This route (AZ trail website info) is a real kalaidescope – Sonoran desert at the base, shady pines and junipers at the top, and great views.

Up top, here’s looking towards Pinal peak, just south of Globe.

The object of the day was to find where the Arizona trail crosses FR650 near the top of Montana mountain outside of Superior.  I’ve done this ride (the jeep roads) before, it’s got super steep climbs, well over 25% grade in spots.  There was even a race here in the early 90’s, Mark Gullickson was riding for ProFlex at the time and cleaned up winning by a fair margin.  I wasn’t able to clean all the climbs back then.  Now that I’m an old fart it’s no problem carrying 160 OZ of fluids, things sure do change.  Much to my surprise, the trail was easy to spot and has had recent work.  It looked sweet!

Fresh trail work, it’s gonna be sweet, right?  Hmmm…its a sucker trail.  There’s fresh trail work at the ends, but in the middle there’s 1,500′ of sketchy, loose, cat claw infested descending.  Don’t get me wrong, it was fun in a twisted way, but when I bailed on a switchback sticking my foot down into some grass – there was no ground to meet my foot, just 6 foot tall grass…here’s the landing pad:

Crap, that hurt…gotta get up off this prickly thing…oh something ain’t right…right foot doesn’t really hurt, but it won’t work either.  What?  Wasn’t quite prepared for what I saw next – 6-8 inch long thick needles buried all the way in various tendons, one of them even nailed my shoe to my foot.  Pulling them suckers out was pure fun, let me tell ya…

Front view, not too bad:

Back view.  The “dots” are where the needles were pulled from…

Advil is my friend for life, and is always with me on long rides.  Today it was useful!

On the upside, the new Fuel is now dialed in.  It always takes a hard learning experience to dial a bike in.  The bars are a touch too high and the Reba rebound was too fast.  Couple on-trail adjustments and it is sweet – handles faster than it did with the SID.

After the forever descent, it was time to go back up the back side jeep trail, on up to Montana mountain, and descent back to the start.


Darn sweet epic, something to write about.  Maybe if I didn’t bring the camera it’d been a boring ride ;)