Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pass Mountain v2: This time I complete the loop

My previous attempt to ride the Pass Mountain trail in Usery Mountain Regional Park didn't go so well and ended with an early withdrawl. Two years later I returned to finish the loop and, while I certainly didn't ride everything, I was successful in completing the trail.

Mike, of Mountain Bike AZ fame, joined my brother and I this morning. Spend a few minutes reading his trail reports and watching the videos shot from his helmet cam and you'll realize that he has mad bike skills. Skills, I should add, that I don't currently have. He rides like a mountain goat, just floating up and down technical features, making the roughest sections of trail look smooth.

Yesterday, and last night, the area received a ton of rain. This was a good thing as it had been months since the last significant storm. This made for absolutely fantastic riding conditions and if not for the handful of puddles it would have been difficult to tell that a major storm had occurred in the previous 24 hours (unless you'd been riding the loose, dusty trails in which case the transformation was even more dramatic).

I had one fall on a mildly technical uphill climb where, for whatever reason, I was unable to unclip after stalling out on a rock move and fell to my left, landing on both hands and my left shoulder. Thankfully there were no cacti in the immediate vicinity for me to fall into. I view this as a minor miracle as, like most trails in the Phoenex area, Pass Mountain is full of cacti. The discomfort of my sore right wrist is nothing compared to the pain and discomfort associated with removing a couple of dozen cactus spines!

Adding a pair of tweezers to my pack would probably be a good idea, since you never know when you'll have a close encounter with a cactus. For example, after we'd finished Pass Mountain, and were riding the Moon Rock trail on the way back to the car, my rear wheel kicked up a piece of cholla that stuck to my right leg. Luckily it was embedded mainly in my knee warmer, but even so I ended up sticking my finger, and poking my calf, trying to remove it.

Some people (like Mike) get excited when they see a trail sign that says it's not recommended for bikes. Others (like me) get a bit nervous.

The trail lures you in with sections of flowing, smooth singletrack. Enjoy them when you can because they are the exception, rather than the norm for this trail!

Looks fun, doesn't it?

The views to the northeast on the backside are massive.

Looking at the east face of Pass Mountain.

This looks easy enough, but don't let the picture fool you. That rock is anything but smooth and there is a significant drop to the rider's right side. I walked this section.

This section of slickrock also looks easy, but is much steeper than it appears and is filled with gaps and folds waiting to suck in your tire. I walked this too.

Mike makes everything look easy. Well, at least the stuff where I was close enough to see him ride he made look easy!

1 comment:

Watcher said...

Those chunks of teddy-bear cholla are evil. The worst is when you use 2 small rocks to "tweeze" them off your leg and manage to flick them onto your other leg (or your companion!)

My buddy down in Phx is a big-time hiker and he always keeps tweezers in his daypack. Probably a good idea.