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  1. #1
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    A Buckeye among the Saguaro...The Return of the Poisonous Nut

    Thoughts of yesterday's 2 1/2 hour rain-soaked ride still in my head, I peer through the window to watch the blasting snow cover the layer of freezing rain from the last couple of hours. Ohio winters are volatile, and yesterday's 60 degree temperatures have plummeted to 18, with constant precipitation. And so I think "Screw this, I need to go riding in Arizona." My dog farts contentedly. I take this as a portent of beautiful vistas and warmer, dryer climate. Time to start planning!

    Two years ago I rejuvenated my passion for biking with a weeklong stint of Phoenix-based riding and car camping, hitting up BCT, Picketpost, and McDowell, among others. Since then I've ridden throughout Ohio, West Virginia, and North Carolina, but the desert pulls on me still. I figure an early March (mostly) bikepacking tour should be a nice kickoff for Spring, and minor details like where and how are being sorted. Any feedback (yes, it's another "Help me plan this trip" thread) would be much appreciated, if nothing else to let me know if I'm as crazy as my wife says I am.
    So, what I've figured out so far.
    • When: March 2-10 (Fly in Thursday night, work Fri from a hotel, and take off from there, fly home Saturday or Sunday)
    • The bike..A 27.5+ hardtail (Cannondale BOTE) with Snakeskin Rocket Rons (running tubeless...I realize tires are a constant topic of discussion here, but open to mentions for other, better options).
    • Tent: Ultralight Big Agnes (I'd prefer my Hennessey Hammock, but it's not real desert-friendly)
    • The rides: I'm eyeing the Coconino Loop or The Gila Rambler as the backbone of the trip


    I've done some overnight bikepacking in Ohio, and several car-camping bike trips, but this will be the longest tour I've done. Consideration for either route:
    The Cococino Loop would likely be 5-6 days, leaving me 2-3 days to check out other trails or local entertainment/dining if I feel so inclined. I've not been to this part of AZ, an exploring new spots is a plus. It seems less remote than the Gila Rambler, so I could pack lighter. But, it would leave less time to explore other areas. Also, there might be enough tree cover for the hammock..maybe?

    The Gila Rambler would be 3-4 days and possibly more interesting. I'd have more time to check out other trails and points of interests. Exploring more of the AZT is appealing, even if only from an "I've been there" perspective. It's more remote, so I'd need to plan and pack more, and getting there will likely be more of an issue.

    I figure I'll need to carry 5-6 liters of water. I'll likely ship the bike beforehand to a friendly bike shop and pick it up once I'm there. The logistics of traveling between points will affect whichever option I choose...the Cococino may win out simply because of this (I figure I can ship the bike there and ride out, as opposed to needing to arrange travel to the AZT for the Gila ride). But, if anyone has suggestions for other routes, I'm all ears. Thanks for reading yet another plea for help from a pasty winter refugee, any feedback welcome!
    A Buckeye among the Saguaro...The Return of the Poisonous Nut-img_2342.jpg

  2. #2
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    Whats that white stuff?
    If you decide to be in the Gold canyon (1/2 hr E of Mesa) let me know; could do a 2 day bikepack there.
    Or od AZT ; Picketpost south for 2-3 days; then back. Safe pking at Picketpost.
    Cheers.
    TS
    I could help with having bike shipped to me in Apache junction;

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the offer re: bike shipping...I'll definitely let you know once I get more figured out! I hadn't considered Gold Canyon, I'll look into that. Parking at PP could be a viable option...or possibly a shuttle from a local outfitter...I know at least one provides a shuttle.
    And that white stuff...it's actually better than the other option here, which is just wet, slushy muck (or just wet and cold). At least the snow is pretty!

  4. #4
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    Coconino would likely be partly under snow in March. I think you'd want to stay at lower elevations.

    The Gila Ramble area would be prime. Check out Schillingsworth's Queen's Ransom route - it is around 200mi and includes some of that area. Then if you want to extend it by a couple days and check some other things out, you could. It also goes through Gold Canyon.

    Flying into Tucson would be another good option. Or fly into Phoenix, do partial Queen's Ransom route then stay on AZT toward Tucson, head toward 50 Yr then into Tucson and fly home from there. That would be pretty easy to do with no car rental required.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the heads up on weather around Sedona...I honestly didnít expect it to be that cold. Iíll look into the Queenís Ransom route. So many good options!

  6. #6
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    Sedona should actually be fine temps in March and no snow. You could ride south from there to BCT. It is the rest of the coconino route that would be the problem. You hit high elevations on Mingus mtn, at Williams and then all the way through Flagstaff and back to towards the south. Very likely snow and downed trees. If it is a low snow year maybe you could pull it off but it would still be cold.

  7. #7
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    Ok, good to know. Iíll have more options than expected. Hardest part of this trip may be choosing what NOT to do.

  8. #8
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    Hey Velocipede! Another Buckeye posting, been exploring the Arizona desert for about the last 7 months since moving here. I'd be happy to help out with logistics, and might have some availability to ride/bikepack that first weekend you're here, if you want some company. Send me a PM if I can help.

  9. #9
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    If you do the BCT and need help with logistics let me know. From where I live near Prescott, it's 30 min. to the northern trailhead and a little over an hour to the southern end. I ride sections of it frequently during the cooler months. River crossings could be an issue, but otherwise early Mar. would be perfect.
    Veni vidi velo!

  10. #10
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    Here's the Queen's Ransom route, slated to kick off on Friday March 2nd at 7am.

    Check out the blog links within and grab the .gpx track there too.
    My Two Schillingsworth


    Ultra Endurance Posters: Ups & Downs

  11. #11
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    Thanks for all the support everyone! I'm going to try to meet up for the Queen's Ransom ride and then hit up a list of trails for the rest of the time...possibly BCT, or maybe Sedona. It's 18 degrees here and I'm going for a ride, but I'll be dreaming of warmer times coming up!

  12. #12
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    Also the Sedona MTB fest will be happening when you arrive so you could hang there for a day or two before you wander off in the wilderness. WARNING - You may end up wanting a new bike if you go

  13. #13
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    Yeah, I noticed that the festival was that weekend...Iíve committed myself to the Queenís Ransom ride that same weekend...fortunately it will be on a new bike, so Iíve already scratched that itch recently

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