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I'm a "she".
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry to open another thread about Tucson riding. I did a search and could not find exactly what I was looking for.

Three of us will be visiting Tucson around Christmas from NorCal. I've never ridden in a desert area, so it'll be a new experience. I've got a few questions for you locals:
  1. Tires: Saw on LA's Twitter that they got 20+ flats on 50 Year Trail due to cactus. Is it that bad??? I run regular tires (with tubes). Is that a very bad choice for Tucson riding?
  2. Epic Rides: My searches revealed following two rides:
    • Kentucky Camp Epic (Imba Epic) long loop 47 miles. Anything we should know about this ride?
    • Chiva Falls Long Loop. I couldn't find much info on it except for this ride, which does not look long at all at 11miles. Any pointers?
    If we can only fit two epic rides in, are these the top two choices? Is there water refill anywhere on either of these rides? We normally carry a water filter on our long rides here in NorCal, but I'd assume it's of no use in a desert, right?
  3. Fun rides: It sounds like 50 Year Trail is a must do. Someone mentioned Fantasy Island, but someone disputed it, so I'm confused. What's your recommendations for fun rides in the area (10-25 miles)?
  4. Misc: How do people normally do road ride up Mt Lemmon? I mean, by a loop or an out & back? Where is a good starting point? On our rest day, we like to go rock climbing. Is Mt. Lemmon too cold for that this time of the year? Or, should we not bother with packing climbing gear?
Thanks in advance for any information you guys can provide!
 

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5o is a must do. Fantasy is fun as well and a tucson staple. It's not tech but if can be ridden fast and can be dodgy trying to avoid cacti. Speaking of cacti, keep your head up as their is a lot of it . That said, it can be avoided, just make sure you have a few tubes. The one error most people make is they assume that when they change the tube that the spine or spines came out on their own and load another tube with the very smalltip of the spine still lodged in their tire. Then when they go to fill it up with air, whamo, another flat. Run your fingers on the inside of the tire a few times and make sure you don't fel anything.

If you want another epic ride, try green mountain to bug springs to prison camp and if you still have gas in the tank, Milagrosa. This ride isn't exactly epic by definition as it might only be 16 miles total but you WILL work your ass off with two gnarly hikes, plenty of gnar exposure and DH and some nasty climbing. It is super fun. However, I would say, if you aren't a solid intermediate to expert rider, try something else. Hope this helps.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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Just put some slime in your tubes or get some slime-tubes, that will be fine for the cactus.
 

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50 Year Trail for sure!! It has fun techy climbs, beautiful rock formations and views, and cool downhill stuff as well. Bad thing is most is not mapped out well.

But do stop and get "The Map" at a local shop, It will help you find some things. 50 Year is best if you can hook up with a local to find some of the upper loops and things. Chiva is old jeep trail with lots of rocks, and the falls is nice when water is flowing.

Mt. Lemmon is best done as a shuttle. It is a lot of climbing from the bottom!! Fantasy Island is the complete opposite. It is mostly flat, with a quick downhill into a gully, and back up the other side. Mostly lots of turns. Kinda BMX style to me. Sprint, turn, sprint, turn. Very little techy, but fun for a couple hours if you have not been there.

Don't forget Tucson Mountain Park!! There are a lot of trails there, with a lot of variety. Lots of rocks in TMP. Lots of trails, but you can't get dangerously lost there. Most of the main TMP trails are on "The Map", but there are a lot of good ones that are not!! If you explore here, you can find some very challenging, rocky, stair steppy stuff to climb and descend.

Take a look at tucsonmtb.com. You can find some good trail info there.

Don't go "weight weenie" on your tires here!! You want good sidewalls. We have rocks, and more rocks. At the very least, go with Slime tubes for the cactus. Most run some form of tubeless here with either UST tires with sealant, or like me with "ghetto tubeless" with sealant. Carry spare tubes, tire boot,and patch kit if you run tubes, and take an actual pump instead of CO2. If you run tubeless, still carry a tube and a sidewall boot. If you have a spine in the tire and it is sealing, leave it in!! Don't pull it out until after the ride.

Don't expect to find water at trails here. Very few have any to use even with a filter.

Bring a comb in your pack!! Not to style for the Betty's, but to remove that Cholla from your butt.:D Seriously, comb and tweezers!! If you brush a Cholla, a ball comes off. Try to brush it off with a stick, and it rolls and puts more spines in you. Put a come under it and peel it off. Then use the tweezers for the rest. Have fun on the visit and don't hesitate to ask the locals for info.
 

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I might get some people excited with this but don't let them get you scared about the tire/tube situation. If you'd rather not mess with slime, tubeless, etc you don't really HAVE to.

I've gotta say that I've ride a decent amount (average 15 hrs a week maybe?) and ride a variety from rocky tech trails with jumps as well as remote trails that don't get the traffic to brush the thorns off the trail as much and I haven't gotten a single flat yet. Maybe I'm just lucky?

On the other hand, it definitely won't hurt. :)
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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tonebone2000 said:
I might get some people excited with this but don't let them get you scared about the tire/tube situation. If you'd rather not mess with slime, tubeless, etc you don't really HAVE to.

I've gotta say that I've ride a decent amount (average 15 hrs a week maybe?) and ride a variety from rocky tech trails with jumps as well as remote trails that don't get the traffic to brush the thorns off the trail as much and I haven't gotten a single flat yet. Maybe I'm just lucky?

On the other hand, it definitely won't hurt. :)
As a local of my particular AZ area, I know what areas have the possiblity of thorns, goatheads and cacti spines. Most transients don't have this local knowledge, so it's better to be on the safe side. Most have never experienced a cholla :) Just because I can get away without slime/sealant for the most part doesn't mean that I would suggest this to most people. I fully agree with your assessment that it's not necessary, but I'd still recommend it.
 

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just get some slime tubes. ive been running on the same tubes for a long time. just bring a spare and you will be fine.

as said above, 50yr is required riding. if you can get with some locals for a shuttle mt lemon is a must. dont let all the shuttle talk fool you, theres still plenty of climbing. fantasy island is pretty fun. like a mini bike park inside city limits. you can stretch it out to 20ish miles if you do all the loops. great place to ride if you just have 1-2hrs to burn.

where exactly are you guys coming from?
 

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Tucson, AZ
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All good advice...let me help by steering you here for the fun rides...8 Days of Xmas for people that wanna ride.

If you need an epic ride, try doing the Tucson Mountain Park Loop (65 miles), Bugs to Millie (~50 miles, ride up highway, down trails) or 50/50 Reddington Loop (48 miles). If you have a GPS, I have GPX files for all the aforementioned routes.
 

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I'm a "she".
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wow, I just got back on my computer and am very excited to find so much good information! You Arizonians rock!

I'm taking notes of all of it. We'll be coming from SF Bay Area (2) and Seattle (1). I had to look up cholla to see what you are talking about, and that thing looks mean! We'll miss 8 Days of Xmas by a week because we'll be in Tucson 19-26.

Please keep the good info flowing, and thank you!!!
 

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Mudworm,

I will be in town that week and would be happy to show you around. Give me a ring and let me know where you will be staying and which days you want to ride. 5205911514. My name is Art(I am posting this from my wife's account.)
 

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hi mudworm. remember me from the norcal boards?

so, as a recent transplant to tucson i would say- you MUST get some sealant in your tubes at the very least and bring extra tubes. riding in the redwoods is nothing like riding here. you WILL get flats. plan accordingly (patch kit, more sealant, extra tubes) if you don't run tubeless.

you should ride kentucky camp, tucson mountain park, sweetwater, 50 year and maybe fantasy island, but fantasy island would be at the bottom of my list- after the aforementioned and the pistol hill section of the AZT and bugs springs/molino basin. FI is the equivalent of arastradero preserve or maybe waterdog park- without the climbing.

definitely ride your bigger tires with thicker sidewalls as others have mentioned- there are lots of sharp rocks that tear right through sidewalls. bring dark sunglasses too. riding under the redwoods is definitely not riding under a desert sun with no clouds. its pretty bright and dark glasses are nice.
 

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Yeah, skip Fantasy Island.

Skip the Chiva Falls jeep roads as well.

50-year needs a guide (as mentioned), but you absolutely must ride there! It's in no way
"epic", but it is a hoot! Lots of rock crawling and techno-trail features on Upper 50 and Deer
Camp. And there are some hidden gems up there where you can go nuts.

Green Mountain/Bug Spring/Molino (Prison Camp)/AZT to Mili or stay on the AZT,
heading across Belota Ranch and up to Reddington Rd would be a killer epic. Be
forewarned that this route has some demanding sections. Really tough climbs, if you can
stay on the bike, and tough if you have to get off and HAB up. There may be issues with
snow on Green Mountain at that time of year, so check the weather and bring the layers.

For yet another true epic, find another guide to run you through a loop at TMP that connects
TMP, Robles, and Brown Mountain. That'll kick your butt. The most technical spots are on
Hooligan, Hidden Valley, Golden Gate, and the John Krein Trail (a hairy ridge ride that I
thoroughly enjoy). If you don't want technical, steer clear of those more technical trails
in TMP.

If it wasn't the dead of Winter, I'd recommend the trails on top of Mt Lemmon, but they're
already under some snow. Sorry. You'll have to come back in the Summer!

If you want more mellow riding, hit the Pistol Hill section of the AZT.
 

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Evil Patrick said:
Yeah, skip Fantasy Island.

Skip the Chiva Falls jeep roads as well.

50-year needs a guide (as mentioned), but you absolutely must ride there! It's in no way
"epic", but it is a hoot! Lots of rock crawling and techno-trail features on Upper 50 and Deer
Camp. And there are some hidden gems up there where you can go nuts.

Green Mountain/Bug Spring/Molino (Prison Camp)/AZT to Mili or stay on the AZT,
heading across Belota Ranch and up to Reddington Rd would be a killer epic. Be
forewarned that this route has some demanding sections. Really tough climbs, if you can
stay on the bike, and tough if you have to get off and HAB up. There may be issues with
snow on Green Mountain at that time of year, so check the weather and bring the layers.

For yet another true epic, find another guide to run you through a loop at TMP that connects
TMP, Robles, and Brown Mountain. That'll kick your butt. The most technical spots are on
Hooligan, Hidden Valley, Golden Gate, and some spur off of Yetman that I thought was
The John Krein Trail, but ended up taking me on a hairy ridge ride (that I thoroughly enjoyed).
If you don't want technical, steer clear of those more technical trails in TMP.

If it wasn't the dead of Winter, I'd recommend the trails on top of Mt Lemmon, but they're
already under some snow. Sorry. You'll have to come back in the Summer!

If you want more mellow riding, hit the Pistol Hill section of the AZT.
Diddo.
 

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Evil Patrick said:
The most technical spots are on
Hooligan, Hidden Valley, Golden Gate, and some spur off of Yetman that I thought was
The John Krein Trail, but ended up taking me on a hairy ridge ride (that I thoroughly enjoyed).
I am wondering what trail that is you mention here? Are you sure it was not John Krein trail, because that does turn into a hairy downhill down a ridge.

John Krein takes off to the south after you get out of the wash when heading west in Yetman wash. If you climb to the top it then drops off to the right of a rock outcropping and down a ridge. It has some spots where you have to floss your butt with the rear tire, and a few spots that I sat aside my pride and walked. Most is rideable for me, and I am sure all of it for some, but not me. It ends down by a trail that goes south toward Cat Mtn, or north towards Tucson Estates.

You mention Hooligan. That is a kick, but has one spot I can't(won't) do.

Have you climbed up the one near Hooligan to the west? On the way to Hooligan and the stone house from the 4 way, when you reach the top of the saddle take the trail to the left. It climbs really steep up some gnarly switchbacks with some hike-a-bike. At the top, it follows a ridge, and this trail rocks!! Very technical, but rideable!! A real gem, but takes a little doing to get there.:thumbsup:
 

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I'm a "she".
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just checked weather forecast, next week, Tucson will be 10F+ warmer than where I am. That's perfect!

Hey Dirt_Digger, yes, I remember you! You know right now, the dirt in the Bay Area is in a perfect condition for digging. ;) Thanks for explaining the differences. The lack of familiarity will make the trip very exciting!
 

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I'm a "she".
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Just wondering if there is any local available to show us 50 Year and Chutes tomorrow (with not too early of a start). I'm really psyched about this ride after having read everything I could find online.

I got a .gpx course (20-mi) file from sdmb.org, but it just sounds like a good idea to have a local to ride with. The reason we want to do it tomorrow is because it's the only rest day our friend has for this week, and he is quite set on not doing 50 Year. He did not have a good experience exploring it years ago (too confusing). It'll be nice if we could get the best experience out of this ride.
 

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caninus xerophilous
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There should be a few of us out riding around 8AM. You can give us call @ 5 two Oh...seven three 0h...Fitty ..sixty two. We should be on the trail for sometime until early afternoon.

Louis
 
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