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  1. #1
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    May 2012
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    TR - Tucson road trip

    Every year I try to hit one or two of the Arizona endurance series races. The Tortolita 50 is one that I hadn't been able to do yet, so when a friend mentioned he wanted to ride it too, we made plans. A friend of Russ's decided to join us as well. We made our escape from rainy San Diego on Thursday night and due to chance of further rain in AZ, set up camp at Motel6 in north Tucson. Fortunately the chance of rain tapered off there while San Diego got hammered much of the weekend, so the timing of the trip was great. The main ride was Saturday so we wanted an easier ride for Friday.


    Decided to hit up the 24 Hours Old Pueblo course for an easy day. Headed around the eastern loop first which took us around to the end of the 24H course which ends with this rock slab



    Then continued around the west loop, clockwise



    Gotta love the variety of cactus out here



    Until the cholla balls are getting flung up by your tires





    Joshua tree - cholla hybrid??



    Russ getting his game face on for Saturday



    For something different I took them on Painter Boy loop next. Most of the 24HOP course is buffed out desert singletrack. Painter Boy is raw, techy, and seldom ridden



    Cool cloud cover



    Ken enjoying fields of grass



    Trail gets hard to follow in places



    Cool off trail rock feature we had to check out



    Entrance gate with a cool view of Mt Lemmon. Snow up top means no big shuttle rides...



    24HOP course is always a fun time, easy casual miles. 25mi for us, just enough to wake up the legs. Then off for pizza and beers.

  2. #2
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    May 2012
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    Tortolita 50

    Saturday morning came bright and early. Quick breakfast and we were off to the start line. Actually got there early enough to get ready in orderly fashion and hang out for a few minutes. Schillingsworth was there as well along with a number of others I recognized from other events. Even Lael Wilcox showed up.



    Chad gives a speech to the crowd



    We had a 3-mile pavement ride over to Golder Ranch where we got right onto the 50-Year Trail



    I was already at the back of the pack and then found myself last when I had to stop and pick some cactus thorns out of my shoe



    Caught up to and then got passed by a few other riders



    We climbed the Cherry Tank trail which was marginally ridable, climbing in and out of a creek drainage and climbing over boulders numerous times. Things were green from recent rains and plenty of water flowed everywhere.



    A bit of nice singletrack as we approached Charouleau Gap Road



    Cherry Tank



    Tacky dirt made Charouleau Gap Road a fun descent, when it didn't turn uphill



    I caught up to Schillingsworth and another rider toward the end of the road



    Both of them bailed on the race on the Honeybee trails rather than climb into the Tortolita Mtns. I hadn't been feeling great either but the legs finally woke up a bit at this point, so I kept going



    I had heard of a new trail in the Torts called Ridgeline that is reportedly awesome, and we got to ride it



    Great scenery and a perfect climbing grade, with flowers emerging as well



    Its one of those trails that climbs and then stays up high on a ridgeline with awesome views off both sides



    It is hard to access from any direction, otherwise it would see a lot more traffic



    Thought I was last but Greg missed a turn and caught me while I stopped for lunch



    View down into Marana from the ridgeline



    View south-ish toward Tucson



    Cactus forest



    I rode with Greg for a while and caught up to another rider on a cross bike, who'd already used his tube and now had another flat. Greg gave him a 29er tube. And we were all off.



    The descent down Wild Mustang and Upper Javelina trails is burly, and I pulled away from the others. Did not see either of them again.



    After that it was a 14-mile pavement ride back to Catalina State Park, then 5 miles of trail and the same 3 miles of pavement back to the start. The grind to Catalina SP took just over an hour, and with a stop for pepsi and water I had an hour til sunset.

    Golden light on the Santa Catalina Mtns in the state park.



    I was starting to get twinges of cramps if I pushed too hard so I hike a biked up any steeper pitches and gingerly got back on the bike. Fortunately once out of the park the 50 Yr trail mostly contoured along and I was able to make good time.

    Finished just after 6pm sunset but didn't need the lights I carried all day, so I was stoked on that. And got my DFL as the others behind me took a shortcut to the start and DNF'd.

    Great day on the bike, with a detour and couple wrong turns I had 59.5 mi and +/- 5,800ft in just over 10hrs. FWIW the fastest rider finished over 4 hrs before me. Usually its a 2:1 ratio

  3. #3
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    May 2012
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    While sitting around having beers Saturday after the ride a couple others mentioned rain for Sunday. The last forecast we'd looked at was clear, but sure enough it had changed and everything around Phx and Tucson was showing morning rain. No bueno when we wanted to be home around dinnertime. Looking further away Yuma had a clear forecast, so we made that the plan for a Sunday ride.

    We got to Yuma and were ready to ride around 1pm AZ time, and headed out on Front Yard trail taking a similar route as my last trip



    This time however I wanted to find a turnoff we missed before that would lead to some other trails on the south side of the system. This rock sign meant we made the right turn this time



    We rode below and on top of some ridge lines generally heading east and north for a while





    Then we dropped into a central valley which we rode to the end of and had to HAB up a steep jeep road to get out of. I'll remember that for next time for sure.



    Cactus shot from Champagne trail



    More Champagne, heading toward Picnic Table



    I wanted to check out Black Canyon trail. Had seen it from below last time and it looked very cool. The only disappointment was how short it was, just 150m or so for this descent



    Definitely a cool looking trail though. We had picked up a local rider who checked it out with us and rode with us back to the car



    Perfect little ride to spin out tired legs for a few hours. 13mi I think and maybe 1,200ft climbing, and home in time for dinner.

    Fun trip, thanks for joining Russ and Ken!

  4. #4
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    Sep 2009
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    .
    Last edited by Groomer Gambler; 12-13-2019 at 08:51 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    NAZ
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    Thanks for posting! Always enjoy your TRs. It was nice to see an AES race report, hoping to ride the SBFL in March.
    It sucks to suck.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2006
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    Carbondale
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    Nice work, I really would like to get down there, but the best riding season seems to be when the best skiing is.
    www.dpsskis.com
    www.point6.com
    formerly an ambassador for a few others, but the ski industry is... interesting.
    Fukt: a very small amount of snow.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2008
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    Paper St. Soap Co.
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    that is a lot of cactus.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2008
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    Sikskiyou's
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    Great TR - awesome riding down there around Tucson. Thanks!

  9. #9
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    May 2012
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    san diego
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    Quote Originally Posted by grskier View Post
    Nice work, I really would like to get down there, but the best riding season seems to be when the best skiing is.
    Thanks! Yeah prime riding is in winter. But starting in Oct-Nov you can also do full laps down Mt Lemmon, though it might get a bit warm at the bottom. No dice on lemmon this trip, we could see the snow from a long ways off.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    Bumping this hopefully for some suggestions. Heading down for a week. . looking for rides around 20 miles 2000vt. Do not mind some rocky rides but not everyday. Think Milagrosa might be a little to chunky for me. thanks
    did see a few other threads with trails mentioned.
    off your knees Louie

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
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    Arizona
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    12
    Quote Originally Posted by BFD View Post
    Bumping this hopefully for some suggestions. Heading down for a week. . looking for rides around 20 miles 2000vt. Do not mind some rocky rides but not everyday. Think Milagrosa might be a little to chunky for me. thanks
    did see a few other threads with trails mentioned.

    Not too many places to get that much vert besides Lemmon. There's been hardly any precip this fall so it all should be snow free. However the Bighorn fire burned all the classic backside rides. Bugs Spring to Molino Basin is the best chunk of Lemmon imo. Park at the bottom, ride the road up and trail down.

    Tucson Mountain Park is where I do most of my riding. I typically start at either the Richard Gesner or 36th street trailheads. If you start at Gesner, I take Star Pass > Sarasota > Yetman > Rock Wren for a nice loop.

    If you want a stretch of AZT, start at Pistol Hill and ride south for as long as you please then head back. You can link it into McKenzie Ranch if you're feeling like more.

    Finally, just go to Sweetwater and take whatever turns you please. When you get tired of dodging geriatrics and poodles look at a trail sign and you're never more than two miles from the car.

  12. #12
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    Mar 2007
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    Hyperspace!
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    Just spent two weeks in Tucson, stayed right next to sweet water. Was working so it was great for morning and evening rides.
    Also bounced over to belotta trail and a bunch in the Oro valley, hohokam trail, etc. lots to keep you busy.

  13. #13
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    Apr 2004
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    thanks everyone for the info. I am just looking to ride 3 to 4 hrs a day and enjoy checking out a new place. Knowing where I want to go each day will take the stress out of driving there. Wendigo I guess you know what you are missing but just in case https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2020...jor-landslide/
    off your knees Louie

  14. #14
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    May 2012
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    On top of other suggestions mentioned, I like 50 Yr trail system and 24 Hour course. Technically you need an AZ State Trust land pass for each of those which is like $15 online, good for a year.

    The Tortolita Mountains are also good, although some trails like Wild Mustang and Upper Javelina are pretty burly, getting close to Milagrosa level chunk. But if you combine with the Honeybee trails and stick to the east side of the Torts the trails are nice.

    I'd also second riding Bugs to Prison Camp. It's pretty easy to hitch hike up Mt Lemmon. Personally I wouldn't ride the road unless I had to. I've done it on AZT300/750...it sucks.

  15. #15
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    Nov 2005
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    Making the Bowl Great Again
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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    Personally I wouldn't ride the road unless I had to. I've done it on AZT300/750...it sucks.
    I have heard Lemmon is the "crown jewel of Tucson riding" and "one of the best climbs in North America."

    https://thecyclinghouse.com/tips-climbing-mount-lemmon/

  16. #16
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    I'm sure it is a great road ride, if you're into that sort of thing.

    What was amusing on the AZ trail race was climbing that pavement with all the roadies out on their rides as well. They were on their super efficient road bikes and had full support crews driving up and down the mountain with extra bikes, food/water, massage tables etc basically holding their hands all the way. Then you have a bunch of dirt bag bikepackers climbing the highway unsupported on heavy rigs, many of whom rode through the night before starting the climb up Lemmon.

  17. #17
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    Apr 2004
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    thanks for the advice. Tucson was a great visit. I was worried about traffic and crowds. Found neither. 50 year was a little confusing first time there. Would of liked to of rode it cleaner. Really enjoyed Tucson MT park. Trails were well built and I was able to enjoy the scenery riding through the saguaro. Bummer a fire burned Wild Burro up to Ridgeline. Fortunately it stopped around the benches on Ridgeline. Did not burn on north side of wash. Amazing how well built that loop is, even signed. Did not see another person after leaving Honeybee. Had a rain day so went to the Arizona - Sonora Desert Museum. Amazing place not to be missed when in Tucson. Glad I made the trip and found Tucson to be a great alternative to Hurricane, St George for winter riding.
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    off your knees Louie

  18. #18
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    Mar 2007
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    Did you hit upper 50 year and rattlesnake? I quite enjoyed those trails

  19. #19
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    Apr 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by wendigo View Post
    Did you hit upper 50 year and rattlesnake? I quite enjoyed those trails
    I rode the golder ranch advanced loop. Added chutes because I missed turn to 50 year the first time. Not sure if rattlesnake is in there.
    off your knees Louie

  20. #20
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    May 2012
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    Glad you had a good time. Pretty much anywhere in Southern AZ is great for winter riding. I'm probably going to head back next week for Xmas break since I can't go home to Canada this year. There is some good winter riding in Socal as well if you want more different stuff. Not ideal this year with forest campground closures but there is still some BLM camping available.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
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    6

    tucson arizona

    my brother lives in tucson az and tell me all the time that there is a really cool mountain trail right by his house. I havent had a chance to visit him maybe i really have to for early 2021 before it gets really hot.

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