We pedaled calmly up the Catalina Highway, with the goal being Bug Springs. As we neared Molino Basin, chatting and laughing the climb away, I was recalling the last time I pedaled the Behemoth up this highway, on the so-called Emergency Overnighter. Hmm, here are two of few riders I knew that would appreciate such a rock playground.
Course change! We decided to skip Bugs (which it turns out was covered in snow anyway). We did take a run on the AZT from Prison Camp down to Molino, and the speed they were descending gave me pause. Whether I was in front or following, I was being pushed to ride faster — and that’s a good thing.
Mike cleaning one of many walls on the way up to the Molino Saddle. I had to fold on several of the challenges, due to weak legs and an inability to hold power for more than five seconds.
This one takes less than five seconds of pedaling to fail on, so I gave it a bunch of tries. I’ve never really given it any serious attention, thinking it surely impossible (that is a big ledge at the end). The boys showed me the error of my ways, and we got into some serious attempts at it.
Something clicked and I found my front tire on top, rear tire stuck and flailing. Grunt, pedal and lunge, and my bike coasted out of it. Yes! Thanks for the push, guys. I love riding old trails with talented folks.
Skippy nailed the last switchback with only a few hops.
There’s only one word for the ensuing descent off Molino: intense. I think I was leading, with MC on my heels, and when we hit the first climb out of the wash I couldn’t help but notice I was breathing hard and absolutely worked, despite having not pedaled at all.
We pedaled past Milagrosa, heading for the rocks.
“Nope, nothing to do here…” says Mike as we transition to rock. It was hard not to grin stupidly as soon as I made my way up the main drainage way, Behemoth reunited with solid rock, psyche reunited with a special place.
I took them on a tour of the fins, sampling some of the little moves I’d found in solo free ride mode. There was one gap move I had sized up last time, but couldn’t even get close to convincing myself to ride alone. After watching both Mike and Skip make it look easy, I pretty much had to give it a go. It went pretty smoothly once I got over my case of hand-brake-ititis (meaning I kept rolling up to it and chickening out). Thanks again for the push guys.
There was much photogeeking with the crisp light, colorful lichen and variable rock. I didn’t take too much part unfortunately, having brought an old and broken camera. My current camera died when I dropped it during last week’s TMP loop, so I was on a backup with a crushed LCD screen. Hard to tell what I was getting, though it was fun to shoot anyway.
As always, the time on the rock was too short. We had a few miles to pedal, a ranch dog to fend off, and a techy trail to descend — Milagrosa. Redo’s on Millie weren’t really an option, so we had to make things count the first time.
And that’s pretty much what we did — minus a few hiccups here and there and a flat by Skippy (who refuses to acknowledge AZ’s spiny nature, running regular tubes every time he comes down). We flashed the trail. And not just in cleaning things, but speed too. I actually got a small gap on Mike in a few places, hitting lines like I had been practicing, not like I’d been riding my road bike and training. So much for rusty technical skills. This was perhaps my best run on Milagrosa ever. I found a few new high speed lines, and learned to carry more momentum and float over stuff following behind Mike, too.
We rolled out into town as the sun set, then headed directly to carne asada tacos.