So, at about 2:30pm yesterday I thought it might be fun to ride from Prescott to Phoenix. The thought came to me while doing a little mountain bike ride near my house.
When I got home I checked the mileage and made a google map of it.
Looks simple enough. In fact I had ridden the same road on my dirt bike and also driven it in my 4x4 several times in years past.
I mentioned the idea to a friend and she offered to drive me up to Prescott. Thank goodness for good friends! This meant getting up at about 3, leaving by 4 and being in Prescott by 6am to hit the road.
As a bit of an act in laziness and because I wanted to see how good the pictures from my new cell phone are, all of the pics for this trip were taken with it. I never even got out my camera this trip. (just a disclaimer for any sub-par photos)
Time to hit the road.
I had planned to be ready to spend the night half way at the Crown King Saloon if need be so I was carrying a little extra weight. I packed enough calories in cliff bars, kashi bars, trail mix, Gu shots and shot blocks for three days. I also put a couple hand fulls of electrolyte tablets in. For water I had my 120 ounce camelback bladder filled along with two water bottles.
I brought some sandals, swim trunks, a spare shirt, a hat, a couple of tubes, a pump, patch kit, SPOT, a camera, the GoPro video camera, a small co2 catridge, some Stans Tubeless liquid, a Leatherman, a small first aid kit, sunscreen, my wallet, my phone and some other small odds and ends. This made for a heavy pack considering I almost always ride with no camelback at all.
There is something about riding a bike that lets you see so much more of nature. It has something to do with how quiet and slow it is compared to motorized transportation. I saw a ton of deer and even a small heard of Javelina.
Since I hadn't planned this ride out a whole 12 hours in advance I felt decent, but not great. I had ridden the two preceding days and even gave my legs a workover at the gym two days before. After a few miles it didn't matter. I knew I could keep pedaling forever as long as I kept a slow pace and took my time. I didn't have a lot of power, but my legs felt like they could spin forever at this easy pace.
The first and last truck I saw was a Forest Service pickup. I was surprised about a half hour later when I started to catch someones dust. It's funny how that triggers the competitive instinct in me. Of course a truck can out run a bike, but I was excited to catch it. It was the same FS Truck from earlier. Haha, it's the little things...
A little while later I came to Palace Station. I think the Forest Service uses it and someone is usually stationed here. Hence the American flag being raised.
So far this trip was perfect. All of the solitude I was looking for. My phone was tracking me via GPS as was the SPOT messenger, but I had the phone's Cell Signal turned off. (It helps to conserve the phones battery, not that I'd want to talk to anyone anyhow)
Yankee Doodle is a great section of singletrack that is rideable by dirt bikes and mountain bikes. No time for that today, but in the past my KTM and I had a great time on there.
Besides chasing the Forest Service truck I was having a good time taking it easy and not pushing it at all. That can be a hard thing to do for me so it was really nice to settle into a pace and just GET OVER IT. Going fast that is. I tend to compete with myself, with a deer running next to me, with some perceived time goal of reaching a certain spot etc. Not this time.
About to start the climb up to Crown King. It was "relatively" hot up here. Nothing compared to what was to come, but at the time I was pouring sweat and going through a lot of my water.
A ways up the climb I stopped for the first real break. Ate some snacks and took a couple pics. The quiet is that perfect sort of quiet that can be ruined by even one other person. It was DEAD quiet. So nice.
I was excited to make it to town. Only being 10 AM I knew there was no way I was going to stay here tonight. I did want to kill some time so when I hit the lowlands it wasn't quite as hot. That plan blew up, but more on that later.
I hung out, charged my phone, drank a couple beers, a dozen glasses of water and ate a double bacon burger with fries. (...and about a half a shaker of salt!)
I was reminded why I was doing this while in the bar. This place used to be so quiet and nice. Today there were two giant flat screen TV's blaring out the Casey Anthony trial. I had no interest in getting sucked into a news story about a mother who killed her daughter so I tried to zone out and enjoy my beer. (and do some people watching)
After a couple hours I couldn't stand sitting and watching daytime television anymore so I hit the general store and headed out. My mental clock was telling me it was still WAY too early to head down into the heat and I'd have been better off not stopping and just heading down the mountain at 10AM, but oh well. When you feel like going, you gotta go!!
I had pulled a ham string so I picked up some Ibuprofen to ease the pain. Otherwise I was feeling great.
From Crown King you do a pretty good climb heading towards the old Bradshaw City site, but once on the CK back road it's a lot of down hill for a while.
This area has a lot of mining history. The hills are littered with tailings and old mining roads. I could spend days up here exploring each one to their end. Looking for remnants of a time long passed.
Some old mine remnants.
The creek bed still has some tailings in it. They would be the bright orange and yellow bits of dirt.
At this point I had descended to an elevation where the temps had risen to over 100 degrees. It was hot, but nothing I couldn't handle. It just went from being "hot" and still fun which I had earlier to more of a "suck it up" type of fun. It's that kind of fun where I get pleasure in knowing that most people wouldn't be caught out here in this weather so I was almost guaranteed solitude.
There is an old cabin that has some people living in it right along the Crown King back road. I spot it via this sign each time I pass. I've seen smoke curling from the chimney's before. They keep the entrance to their property obscured pretty well, but I wonder what they do and if they live here year round.
When I saw the sign out of the corner of my eye I promptly turned my head and then let my front tire wash out. Lets just say my hand didn't feel great the rest of the ride. Stupid mistake, but thank fully nothing was broken.
Another break in the shade. At this point I'd take a break every 20 minutes or so. Usually only for 2 or 3 minutes, but it was always enough to get the heart rate back down and keep me from overheating.
Throughout the entire ride you can see mining claims. Here is one with a little cabin. I've seen people using a sluice box, panning or even using higher tech generators to sort through the dirt and rock looking for their own little fortune.
Another little cabin.
Another one of many breaks. I was now low enough in elevation to feel the full heat of the Phoenix valley high for the day. At this point I could feel every bit of the 111 degrees of heat. I was just trying to keep movements slow and steady. At these temps once you overheat it's almost impossible to cool back down.
Now it was simply a game. A game of "Are you tough enough and smart enough." If I got excited or impatient and road faster I would start literally streaming sweat and I'd dehydrate quickly. That and I'd start to get my body temp to a very dangerous level.
It was all a game of slow movements and stopping often. Walking the steeper hills and trying to climb the others while staying seated and pedaling as slow as I dare without falling over. (In a sick sort of way I love it.)
At this point it was still fun, but in a completely different sort of way than the day had started off. The morning was just plain fun. Solitude, beauty and nice weather. Now it was a serious game of survival and a great sense of self accomplishment if I could make it to pavement unassisted.
This ground was radiating such a high level of heat. I can't describe what it felt like... When I would take a break the temp would actually climb as I sat myself down on it.
I had been day dreaming about coming to this view for a couple hours. As soon as I saw it I took a pic and then realized I still had a good 5 miles more to go and a couple of hills to climb. Damn...
Watching people unload kayaks was tough. I didn't dare stop and get in for fear that I'd never finish the ride. Once I got relief from the heat I don't think someone could have gotten me to start back up at gun point.
I was just concentrating on not getting excited and speeding up. If I dared speed up I'd overheat in just a couple minutes. Just like my favorite book as a kid. "The Little Engine That Could." I just kept saying to myself "I think I can, I think I can!"
I realized fully how serious it was. At the same time I knew that getting anxiety about it would just make me worry and heat up. I had to accept the position I was in and remember that all I had to do was stop and call D if I needed to. (at this point my cell phone seemed to have some limited reception.)
And I did. I rolled up to the most amazing sight of my girlfriend, a car with air conditioning and a paved road. All in all it was a great trip. I can't wait to do some more of the mountain portions of this and other roads/trails. Once the weather cools off I look forward to doing this trip again. (I didn't take any triumphant pictures at the end because my body was barely there and all I could think was break down the bike, throw it in the trunk, and get INSIDE now!)
What a blast, what an experience. I'm sure there aren't too many others who have done that ride in this weather.
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