Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Arizona Trail - Rincon Valley

 What a treat to find such a great chuck of desert singletrack as a setting for the first destination in my quest for warmth and mountain-biking!

Arizona Trail

On January 6 I rolled into southeast Arizona after fighting my way out of snowy Colorado and across icy New Mexico. I was tired of driving and sleep-deprived. A tip from my friend Jake that there was a nice park on the east side of Tucson called Colossal Cave Mountain Park led me in through Vail, AZ off I-10. I pulled the Pod into the park, found a spot for her and started unraveling the mess of my things. As I staggered around looking for things and scratching my head, I saw mountain bikers riding a section of trail a few hundred feet from the trailer.

My camp from the trail

Sunday morning after it was over 50° F I put on some lycra, swung a leg over the Fisher and headed out to see what they were riding. Lo and behold! Newly minted singletrack! I rolled on fun, twisty singletrack that still has McCloud marks from the builders. Clearly built based on IMBA trail design standards, it was fun, challenging, and beautiful.

I rolled north, first climbing through tight turns and over rocky obstacles. After a mile or so I reached a ridge top and the trail began to flow softly downhill, full of sweeping turns between a huge variety of cactus and thorny shrubs. I giggled, I whooped, I carved turns and slowly increased my speed and nerve. It had been a few months since I last rode a mountain bike on actual singletrack. I became reacquainted with my bike (my darling).

Shortly I reached a road and trailhead. I crossed the road and went through a gate, following the carsonite AZT signs. Now the trail became a bit less trimmed. Still flowing smoothly between the flora, but now with less extra room for error. Classic skinner box singletrack. Do everything right and you get that tasty food pellet, the pleasure of a perfectly carved turn, the sweet feeling of knobby tires tracking through dirt and gravel. Make a mistake and you get an electric shock, a scratch from the thorny plant life or the gift that keeps on giving, a cactus thorn or 12 stuck in you. At one point my shoe bumped one of those paddle-looking cacti and I had to stop 10 minutes later to find the thorns that were stuck in it, scratching my foot. Eventually it becomes clear that slowing down is a pretty good idea. Note to self: get tweezers next time I am in town.

I call this Arizona Leprosy

The AZ Trail pretty much peters out right at this wash, which is Rincon Creek

I will be doing trail work with the creators and maintainers of this section on Saturday, January 13!

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