For the Thanksgiving ‘break’ we opted to skip traveling by car or plane, going for travel by bike.
Paying thanks to the beautiful world we are so lucky to live in.
And the amazing bodies we have to experience it with.
For the perfect weather, the warm sun.
For the complicated symphony of conditions that had to come together, for us to be here, and now, together.
For remote singletrack, just outside wilderness.
None of these things are to be taken for granted, ever. Though all are, at one time or another.
For the perfect balance of sun and dark, the rhythm of the cosmos.
thanksgiving dinner – fish tacos
We dined on tacos, and enjoyed a rare ‘wet’ camp, just above a reliable desert seep.
Camp’s sunrise view, time to get out there!
The AZT was crowded in the morning! Saguaros throwing elbows, trying to muscle their way into a better view of the day and the Gila valley.
The first morning on a bikepack is my favorite. No gear decisions to be make, no bikes to load in cars. Nowhere to hide, hermit away. No computer to ‘check’. Just pack up what little you have, try to convince yourself that what little you ate for breakfast is anywhere near enough, then get on and start pedaling, into the morning, into the world.
We crossed the mighty Gila, inches deep in November.
En route to a playground.
Of strange and wonderful rock.
This is the place.
I dropped the gear. Dropped the saddle. Eszter opted for a nap in the sun.
I opted to pedal through one of my favorite landscapes anywhere. I only scared myself a few times, and limited myself to only a handful of times hitting my favorite drop into kitty litter / moonscape landing. Brilliant.
Pondering life direction and collecting shells at a lower crossing of the Gila.
Approaching the Box, the Eszter diesel purred into action, settled into gear.
Once going, almost nothing can stop it. Not even a big old hike-a-bike in the 80 degree afternoon sun. The legendary Orphan Boy climb, ghost of AZT 300′s past.
I just had to try and hold on for the ride. Eventually, back on the AZT heading towards Picketpost, there was enough downhill and enough switchbacks that I caught her. “Can I have a fruit bar?” I was fighting off a good little bonk. Scott diesel sputtering.
Giant plates of Greek food were our reward in Florence. Chance of bonk, zero percent.
Another theme of Thanksgiving, for whatever reason, is abundance and gluttony. Caroline came fresh off the Flight of the Pigs ride in Phoenix, and was looking for a few good rides. There’s an abundance of such things in Tucson, and though our legs may not have been fresh, gluttony was the name of the game. Mmmm, ride binge.
We took her on a version of the TMP ‘Big’ loop, from home. Something we had yet to do since arriving a month ago.
Nailing rock stairs!
Lots of classic Starr Pass chunky rubble for the first half.
And some of my favorite roads, through Saguaro National Park, on the back end.
Maybe a silly gasline climb or two. Ok, maybe a dozen+.
Mi Ranchito was the recovery weapon of choice after 5+ hours of pedal time.
AZT called us the next day.
Maybe it calls every day?
Smooth and reasonable, good for tiring bodies.
Or is it? Time to session some rocks! Yeah!
Ez and Caroline found some good ones, giving them many tries. Making progress.
And nailing them! YES!
Meanwhile, in the back of my head, was a rock that quietly minds its own business as many an AZT user passes through. I made weak attempts to roll up to it on the way out.
On the way back, inspired by the persistence and spirit of the girls, I had to give it a good, good effort. And it went, on a bike with only one gear. That really surprised me.
Ice cream AZT rides are quickly becoming a favorite, and even better when they end with another round of tacos at the Ranchito. It was a gluttonous and very tasty four days of Thanksgivin’.
Backtracking to pre-Thanksgiving rides. We finally got out to the 50 year trail, giving the upper loop a go with Ez on my Behemoth and me on the singlespeed.
Such a unique area, and one that deserves more of my attention. Climbing was fun on the little bike, but the way down was a little limiting or at least intimidating.
Climbing the goat hill up to the wash.
On yet another precious evening Starr Pass loop. So lucky to have it so close.
Abbreviated Techy Taco ride with Chad and Rob. I locked Eszter out, so I sprinted up and back the main trail, then made tracks for home. Going down the usual climb was really hard! Loved it.
Techy make up day, on a tightly cholla’d Wagon Wheel trail. Goodness me is that trail ever challenging and such such fun.
Not to mention evening views to die for.
Dropping down hooligan, blinded by the red light in my eyes, holding on to the edge of the trail, tires and rocks sliding, coyotes in the distance, cholla in the knuckles, life in the heart.