Friday, June 01, 2007

Barton Creek

"He was the last person I thought would get married," Shane told me at Bruce's bachelor ride on some secret singletrack along Austin's Barton Creek Greenbelt. There were supposed to be six of us, but Augur and Jaime bailed out. As we neared the hippie hole, Shane received an urgent call: he needed to move a washing machine. Three of us were left. Then, John from Ozone lost his chain on a descent. So, Bruce and I dutifully climbed out of the canyon and headed back to the apartment. A half-baked ride, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

High Altitude Classic

I met my buddy Bruce in Cloudcroft to ride the trails and watch him compete in the High Altitude Classic. Just for the heck of it, I signed up in beginner class with my rickety hardtail. Bruce ended up separating his shoulder on one of his practice runs and was in a dismal mood that night, but I was able to ride his Kona in the race the next day. I got 5th place out of 10, just ahead of our buddy Augur. After my runs, I grabbed my camera and a beer and hung out at a nasty ledge on the pro course, where I managed to snap this photo of Chris Boyce.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Stay Tuned

Desert Biker is currently experiencing technical difficulties, but postings will resume shortly. (My girlfriend took my GPS!)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Arizona Trail at Colossal Cave

Tucson, Arizona

Scout is a real mountain dog, a trooper who loves to run. If you put her on a leash, she barks and growls and is loath to obey any order you give her. But if you put her behind a mountain bike she's your best friend.

We went out to check out the Colossal Cave section of the Arizona Trail and had a blast cruising along fresh, super smooth singletrack. I felt pretty guilty riding this great stretch of trail considering that I didn't take part in the Cienega Corridor Construction Project. Alas, it's a new year, and I promise I'll try my hand at trail work.

This is a preliminary post, I'll have maps up as soon as I've ridden the Passage #7 from I-10 to Saguaro National Park.

How to get there: From the intersection of Old Spanish Trail and Pistol Ranch Road, continue on the dirt section of Pistol Ranch Road. After about a mile, you'll see a 4wd track on your right, with a wide improvised parking area. The marked AZ trail will cross this track to your right, heading towards Colossal Cave.

Length: 13 miles from I-10 to Saguaro National Park. (About 4 between Pistol Ranch Road and La Sevilla)

Trail Conditions: Smooth singletrack.

The Map: To Come.

The Ride: We rode up to La Sevilla Campground in Colossal Cave and then back down past my car until we got to a cattle guard on Pistol Ranch Road.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

San Carlos

San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Salty air and fast, rolling trails combine to make San Carlos an overnight stopover during any two-wheeled foray into Sonora. The town, a laid-back gringo hideway just north of the fishing port of Guaymas, doesn't have much to offer culturally -- aside from sprawling condos and white-haired retirees decked out in Tommy Bahama beach wear. But the coastal landscape -- what's left of it at least -- is striking: a string of beaches, bays, and lagoons punctuated by rock-topped hills that look like upside down ice cream cones. The trail is smooth as silicone grease, with just enough topographic relief to give you a workout and a rollercoaster ride. A couple of laps are just about right before sitting down for a Tecate at nearby Playa Piedras Pinturas.

How to get there: From Hwy 15, head west on the four lane road that leads to San Carlos. Just after you pass the sign for Ejido Buenos Aires, you'll see a sign for the Delfinario and Miramar pointing to the left. You have to pass the sign and make a U-turn to get onto that road. From the start of this road, drive exactly 0.8 miles. Turn left on the dirt road at a sign that once said Pista Biclista and now says, "PI . . . A B . . . .TA." When I was there someone stuck a yellow Livestrong sticker in the middle of the sign. Follow this road as it veers to the right (a smaller road heads left), then take your first left where an old gate is sitting in the middle of a field. Park at the white cement block.

Length: 6.5 km. 30 minutes. ~500 feet of elevation.

Trail Conditions: Excellent.

The Map

The Ride: The main loop is well-marked with arrows and distance signs, but still a little confusing at the get-go. It begins and ends at the cement block where several dirt roads and trails converge. If you're facing away from the paved road take the singletrack to the left (north) and you'll loop around the base of a hill for the first 1 km, and it will bring you back to some doubletrack close to your starting point. Turn left here and follow this doubletrack, staying to the right as it becomes singletrack. This trail is easy to follow for the next 4 kms until you come out on some doubletrack along the side of the paved road. Follow this doubletrack north for 100 feet and the you'll be back on singletrack leading you about 1 km to your start. Although the trail is meant to be ridden in one direction, there are few riders in the area and I enjoyed riding it backwards.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Rancho Santa Cruz

Navajoa, Sonora, Mexico

On my way up to Alamos, I met a group of ten riders from Navajoa who call themselves Lobo Aventurismo. Lobo Aventurismo is both club and a guide service, and they operate the only adventure sports store in Navajoa. Sadly, I was unable to ride with them, but they pointed me toward Rancho Santa Cruz, a working cattle ranch that hosts local races. The singletrack was what singletrack should always be: ecstatic. It winds through thorn scrub and cactus, dives into tight arroyos and bounds over rolling hills. It was 80 degrees out when I was there, and -- with little shade in the area -- I bet it's darn hot in the summertime.

How to get there: From Navajoa, head east on the highway to Alamos. Drive 14.2 miles to Rancho Santa Cruz on your left. A sign with a bike painted on it hangs from the barbed wire fence facing towards Navajoa, and it would be hard to see if you're coming from Alamos. On the gate itself is a New Jersey license plate. If the gate is locked, park on the side of the highway.

Length: 1 hour. 10 km. <500 feet elevation.

Trail Conditions: Dry and dusty.

The Map:

The Ride: From the casita, follow the main dirt road through a gate and head right. Go through another gate and head down the road for about 1 km. You'll see the sign for the Saque de Julian singletrack on your left. The main trail is well-maintained.

Roadside sign pointing you towards Rancho Santa Cruz.

A stretch of shady singletrack to escape the desert heat.

The Lobo Aventurismo storefront in Navajoa.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

La Jolla

Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

In Mexico, good singletrack is hard to find. You're either on a cow track or a 4x4 road. And if you happen to stumble on a prime stretch of trail, chances are it'll dead end at someone's shanty in about 50 feet.

But overlooking Sonora's capital city is a glorious trail network that looks like something you might find in Aspen during the off-season. Indeed, La Jolla is set up like a small ski area with most of the trails crammed on the front face of the mountain. This is great for spectators during La Jolla's frequent races -- including the Tremos 24 hour race -- but it also makes the whole experience feel sort of frivolous. When you get on a mountain bike, you want to ride somewhere, you want to get AWAY. But at La Jolla, you can almost always look down to the parking lot and see your car waiting for you.

So if you don't require that illusion of wilderness, then you'll have a blast shredding these trails. They are fun and a great place to stop if you're heading south.

How to get there: Driving south into Hermosillo on the 15, the highway follows a complex route around the city on its way to Guaymas. As you first enter town, you'll come to a four-way intersection with a Pemex station, where the highway turns left. Turn right instead and head uphill for 2 km until you see a huge sign for La Jolla. Turn right into La Jolla and go through the security gate. The trails will be right in front of you.

Length: ~10 miles, 1-2 hours riding.

Trail Conditions: Great, well-maintained.

The Map:

The Ride: According to the map at the trailhead, there are four loops, Norbi, Diamond, Nathan, and Roller Coaster Maverick. With some new development on the west side of the mountain, Nathan appears to have been axed or at least re-routed. I couldn't find it. The other trails are fairly easy to follow although its not always clear which trail you're actually on.

Trails crisscross the hillside at La Jolla