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Fragile - must be Italian
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
...is not necessarily a good thing. I took my chances this morning with the weather and planned a somewhat-triple-bypass route:

Start at Bashas
Ride up Windgate to the Tom's Thumb intersection
Ride up to the top of TT and down the east side to Windmill
Ride Windmill to Coachwhip and over to Dixie Mine
Ride Dixie Mine over to Sonoran
Climb up Sonoran to the tippety-top (about 2/3 of the way before it drops down to the jeep road)
Turn back around and ride back down Sonoran to Dixie Mine
Over to Prospector and up/over Bell pass
Down Bell to the car

The weather, however, didn't want to cooperate with me. The morning started out *really* soggy. I pulled into the Bashas parking lot at 9:20 and the torrential rains had just ended...so the trails were very wet. I was surprised how poorly most areas drained...and even more surprised at how soft and slippery the trail was. Pushing the bike forward required 25% more effort over dry conditions because my tires would sink in a little (not enough to leave a rut...I would never ruin the trail like that...but enough to leave a tire track).

That made the climb up Tom's Thumb that much more difficult! The soft ground gave way a lot, so as I would grunt up those steep hills, my tires would all of the sudden spin out. It didn't help that the Geax Saguaros I run *suck azz* in mud (refuse to shed anything). Note the pic at the top of Tom's Thumb - my tires are coated in gooey mud.

Anyway, the clouds hung around all morning. By the time I got to the top of Tom's Thumb visibility was <50 feet. And then the rain started to come. I got halfway down the East side of TT before the winds started to blow hard, and the temperatures dropped significantly. Thankfully I had my rain slicker with me, and that kept me much warmer.

The rain fell steadily all through Coachwhip and Dixie Mine trails. Again, lots of water was pooling on the trails and making it a very wet ride. By the time I got to the Sonoran intersection, the sun was finally peeking out of the clouds, and everything in the desert was glistening! Very pretty...too bad my phone camera took such a lousy picture.

Sonoran Trail handled the water very well - better than anything else I rode all day long. It was also nice and tacky, which made coming back down all the more fun.

Bell Pass is another nightmare in the rain. I've only ridden that trail once before when it is wet, and it is really soft...like riding in quicksand. I was able to muscle my way up the entire trail, but it took a lot out of me!

Going down Bell was also interesting as the rocks were very wet and slick. Just as I crested the pass, the rain started to drizzle again. It was never very bad, but getting pelted in the face with rain while you are focusing on the trail is never a fun thing.

I made it back to the car just in time...as that is when the skies opened up and the rain came back down again.

All in all I had an enjoyable ride...but I vow to never ride the McDowell's during wet conditions again. The trails in the PMP and SoMo both handle water much better than the McDowell's.

BTW - pardon the crappy photos. I used my cell phone for all of them and it never seems to take very good pics.
 

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Pivotal figure
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6,361 Posts
Pretty much what I expected since SoMo was also in the clouds for a bit. I wanted to ride that again but just couldn't stomach the thought of it being even tougher with the rain. Nat'l was pretty cool though, just a little tricky on the rocks :)
 

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Victim of Saddle Rage
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Do you have a .gpx for that loop? Always looking for new rides.

I like the AZ log on the trail (downed Saguaro cactus).
 

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Fragile - must be Italian
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2,308 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
cannonballtrail said:
Do you have a .gpx for that loop? Always looking for new rides.

I like the AZ log on the trail (downed Saguaro cactus).
I don't, but it is well marked. There is also a map here:

http://www.fh.az.gov/content/pdfs/maps/FH_THE_BIG_PICTURE_TRAILS.PDF

The start of my loop isn't well identified on that map -- it's basically the end of the "104th St Spur" (enter at the parking lot of 104th St and Bell). From there you go to Gateway Loop, continue up Windgate Pass Trail, left on Tom's Thumb, up and over TT and drop down East End Trail, left on Windmill, right on Coachwhip, right on Dixie Mine, continue on Dixie Mine to Sonoran (the red trail), take that as far as you want, turn around and go back to Dixie Mine, then left on Thompson Peak Road, veer right onto Prospector Trail, continue up and over Bell Pass trail, back to Gateway Loop, and return on the 104th St Spur.

That loop is appx 3.5-5 hours, depending on your fitness level and tolerance for pain.

Thx...Doug
 

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Chunky Monkey
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Downed Log

cannonballtrail said:
Do you have a .gpx for that loop? Always looking for new rides.

I like the AZ log on the trail (downed Saguaro cactus).
I am always so sad when one of these OLD guys bite it. Kinda like a great, great grandfather gone....

Thx,
John
 

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Kind of had a similar experience today but in the afternoon. I rode up Tom's Thumb and at the top the view let me know I had very little time til a lot of rain was coming. I chose to hightail it back down TT but no luck. Before I had left home I looked at the radar for about 5 seconds and decided it wasn't going to rain anymore so, with much intelligence went sleeveless and didn't take anything else with me. It was quite an experience flying down those switchbacks in pouring rain and winds freezing my a** off. Eventually it did give way to great weather though
 

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I love bike!
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1,154 Posts
I was riding in the Paradise, Taliesin, Lost Dog area on Sun and had a blast. Started my ride @ 11am after driving from Queen Creek through batches of rain. Thought about turning around a number of times but was determined and I was glad I did. Sprinkled for about the first 15 mins of the ride before I got to the Taliesin Overlook then let up until I got back over to Paradise and started to lightly rain again. Went up and back down Paradise in the wet which I thought was really fun but a bit sketchy at the same time. The rocks were definately slippery but was a lot of fun that we don't get to experience very much. I noticed up on the peaks that the clouds pretty much stayed put so I can see why you may have gotten a bit wetter. Had one of the best rides I've had in a while, glad I decided to tough it out :thumbsup:
 
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