Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Acknowledge the fire, but dwell on the green.

As so many people know, a large portion of the San Francisco Peaks burned over the past week due to an abandoned campfire. I took my own pictures of the smoke and the now blackened mountainside, but I'm not going to post them here, because you can find any number of pictures and videos on the Googles, most of which are better than mine.

I was just up there the weekend before the fire started, which makes it a little surreal for me, especially since a couple of the pictures I took were aimed right at the burn area, and some were taken inside the burn area. I have mixed feelings about riding on Waterline Road now, because I do want to see for myself how much the area has changed. However, at the same time, the last ride I went on, everything was so green and beautiful, and I'd kind of like to keep that image in my mind, instead of the charred skeletal trees that will persist for the next 50 years.

But, it's important to keep in mind that the area will eventually recover. Forest fires happen, and with as overgrown as the Schultz Pass area was, a wildfire like this was more or less inevitable. In a couple years, there will be thick green ground cover, and in 10 years, young trees, and so on. I'll try to picture that until it happens.

However bad the Schultz Fire is, and however long it takes the area to recover, there are still plenty of green places around Flagstaff. When the fire pictures get you down, keep that in mind.

Pictures from Soldier's Loop and Highland Trails.

Keep an eye on your fires, everyone.
Mileage: 21.5

Sunday, June 13, 2010

So I cheated a little.

So one of my friends from work asks me if she could take pictures of me riding my bike a few months ago. "Why not?" says I.

Fast forward to today, where she picked me and Tri up, and we went to Locket Meadow on the side of the Peaks where we rode around, and she took pictures. It was fun, and a change of pace to my usual riding repertoire. I'm sure they came out great, except for the dork on his bike in them. >.>

After the picture taking, I hopped on Tri, and rode up the Inner Basin Trail from Locket Meadow to Waterline Road, which I followed all the way to the end in Abineau Canyon on the north side of the peaks, a place I've been wanting to go for quite some time. I figured since I was already on the mountain, why not make a ride out of the day?

Looking back down the mountain at Locket Meadow, with the cinder hills and Sunset Crater beyond.

It wasn't the first tree across the road, but it was the first big one.

And then I found some snow.

Almost there....

Abineau Canyon, with Humphrey's Peak above.

If you squint, you can almost see the Grand Canyon.

I briefly thought about heading down Abineau trail to the forest road that runs along the north side of the peaks, but being wilderness, I'd have to walk the bike a couple miles. (technically, carry.) ~15 miles of downhill, followed by a few miles of lovely swoopy singletrack along Schultz Creek sounded like much more fun.

Looks a little stormy. Fortunately it didn't rain.

Another big one across the road.

And right after I decided that I had enough pictures of blown over trees, I find several.

Not a bad day of riding. I feel like I cheated, because I'm so used to riding to the trail, riding on the trail, then riding home. (Sedona not included.) But I think I could get used to this being dropped off somewhere near where I want to ride to, then riding home.

...what? You were expecting pictures with me in them?
Mileage: 45

Saturday, June 5, 2010

That was either madness, or brilliance.

It's remarkable how often those two traits coincide.

My bright idea this time was once again to ride to Sedona and back, but this time, taking a route I read about on Handlebar Sandwich, going out Woody Mountain Road, through the Sycamore Canyon/Secret Canyon wilderness areas along a powerline cut over Casner Mountain.

Yeah, I never heard of it either. But it was something different, and I really wanted to ride it, especially for the switchbacks dropping off Casner.

I ended up missing the turns I was shooting for, and wound up on highway 89 somewhere between Sedona and Cottonwood, and had to ride north into Sedona. I was doing fine until coming up the last big hill, when my legs started cramping up, to the point that I launched myself off the bike. At that point I decided to call Exegete for a save (again) and limped to a gas station, then to the Burger Pig for a shake while I waited.

The ranch off Woody Mountain Road. Mooooo.

The Peaks are starting to get pretty small...


The Taylor Fire burn area. Josh and I saw the smoke from this when it first started when we were out riding around. I've never ridden through such a fresh wildfire area, and it was really surreal, almost like stepping into another world. In most places there was nothing on the ground but loose dust and ash. There's no shade, and not many sounds aside from the occasional bird and the wind.

But the tenacity of plants always amazes me. Not even a year on, and plants are already coming back. The green stands out so brightly in this place.

This would have looked much better green... but then I likely would not have seen the view from the road.

Looking south from the rim, with Casner Mountain on the right.

San Francisco peaks from atop Casner.

Going down....

This is where it got steep. Switchbacks all the way down.

I think this shot best displays the grade. I had to stop here to let air out of the tires because I built up enough heat from the brakes to make the air in the tubes expand that much. I've never had brake fade on a bicycle before, and the rims were too hot to touch. I think it's time to upgrade to discs.

I'm alive!

I think this qualifies as an epic ride, and the scenery, the switchbacks, and having a better idea what my endurance limits are made it all worth it.

I'd do it again. (Later in the year when it's not as hot.)
Mileage: 56.7