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  1. #1
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    Sunrise Surprise

    I had some of my assumptions about Phoenix riding challenged and broken yesterday. The number one assumption being..."the riding is more technical, but less physically demanding than the riding in Prescott".

    I went for a little hike on Lost Dog to Ringtail with the family Monday. Probably went about 2-3 miles in 2 hour with the pace limited by the three yo. The whole time I was tempted by the wicked switchback climb I could see in the distance....I supposed this to be "Sunrise".

    I returned the following afternoon starting around 3:30. Climbed up Lost Dog to Ringtail. Got to our 1 hour turn around point with the family in about 8 minutes solo by bike. Got on to Sunrise and started to climb, excitedly towards the peak. I paced it nicely, I was getting cocky and thinking about how I would brag on MTBR about cleaning this difficult climb. Maxed out the last two pitches, and very glad I was only pushing 32 X 22. Get to the top and.........total deflation and dejection....the perceived top is not the top. What a heartbreaker. Totally broke my will to fight on, so I took a break, and started up again. I wish I could say I cleaned the rest of it. I did bike it all, but had to stop for a rest before some of the steeper pitches.

    All in all it took about 45 min to get to the spur to Sunrise peak. I then dropped down the opposite side, 15 min to the parking lot of Via Linda? (the East side of the trail).

    I then turned around and went East to West...Way harder, and not climbable by me on the SS. A decent amount of pushing, and I was back at the top in about 1/2 hour.

    Went down Sunrise, turned left to explore the 128th st entrance (Cholla City!!), Turned back around to Sunrise, down to Lost Dog. I still had some light, so I explored up Lost Dog to the Taliesen overlook, and turned back to the 124th st lot.

    Anyway, The climb was punishing and as tough as anything I have ever done. The terrain was not even remotely technical, but could burn you mainly because of the profuse amount of cactus of all kinds. I was wiped out at the end, especially my upper body from the intense pulling on the bars.

    I'm back out tomorrow. I think I'm going to stay in the McDowells and am open to suggestions. I've never ridden any of this stuff. Goat camp will wait for another day. I will have at least 4 hours for tomorrows ride. Any ideas where I should head.

  2. #2
    I am Doctor Remulak
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    I'm back out tomorrow. I think I'm going to stay in the McDowells and am open to suggestions. I've never ridden any of this stuff. Goat camp will wait for another day. I will have at least 4 hours for tomorrows ride. Any ideas where I should head.
    I don't know the McDowells well enough to suggest something there, however, if you're looking for something more technical I'd recommend making your way down to South Mtn and riding National.

  3. #3
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    Windgate

    I am very familiar with all that you rode today. In contemplation of the "Quadruple Bypass" set for this Sunday, today I rode up Windgate, from the west side, for the first time. It was much harder, steeper, rockier, and longer than Sunrise. I really enjoyed it, though, especially the descent (I turned around and went back the way I came). It basically starts from 104th St/Bell Rd., where there is a small unofficial parking area, and if you search this forum, you will probably get better directions to guide you along the way than I could give you.

    If you have 4 hours, you could do what I did, then go over the pass to the east until you reach Bell Pass trail, and then head back over the mountains to the west and back to where you started. This is what will be the first two passes of the Quad ride on Sunday - I was going to do it today, but ran out of time, but 4 hours should be more than plenty.

  4. #4
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    "Kicked in the teeth again!"

    ...ah yes, Bon Scott said it best!

    Sunrise, Bell (especially the west side), and Windgate all have their share of 'demoralizers', but you did what all real Mountain Bikers do - you sucked it up and conquered that MoFo!

    I agree with az_cholla in doing what I affectionately call "The Northern Double Bypass", or NDB. When you descend Windgate on the eastern (Fountain Hills side) slope, look for a trail junction on your right - about 1.5 miles down, that will take up up, up, up, and finally over Bell Pass. There's another junction on lower Bell, but you want the pain - so just keep going up.

    As for the Bell descent, just be sure your brakes are in good order, or your health insurance premium is paid up... because it WAY STEEP for the first 1/2 mile! I can't believe Walt suckered us into climbing that SOB, but that's another thread... ...anyway, stay on Bell until you hit the main 2-track (south) back to your car.

    Ride Hard, Ride Free!
    "The secret of joy is the mastery of pain." (Anaïs Nin)

  5. #5
    I am Walt
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    Enel - Great to hear you enjoyed the ride. That's a stout ride you did on a SS - going up and over Sunrise, then back up and over. Climbing from the east is tougher because the last 1/2 mile is so steep and loose. Not many climb it from that side with any regularity.

    Oh, you got snookered by that first "false summit." Without the beta from someone to warn you, that just sucks the life out of you to work the lower section and those switchbacks, then crest the top...and see that you're halfway...doi!

    I was out there this morning in the dark with gears climbing Sunrise. It's great with lights, very cool.

    Here's what I might recommend for tomorrow. You know the 124th St. TH, so start there. Follow Lost Dog to the Taliesin Overlook. Go down the other side, which puts you on Quartz. You'll come to a first junction, where Quartz goes up to the right. Keep going straight and you'll come to a second junction, where the Taliesin Trail joins from the left. Go right, which keeps you on Quartz. This is a great downhill run - not technical, just fun, fast and very flowy. Watch out for various sharp turns and, of course, plenty of cacti.

    About 3/4 of the way down (maybe 7-10 mins.), look for the junction with the Paradise Trail, which comes in from the right just after a sharp right-left turn. Follow Paradise for whatever the distance is, I think about 1.5 miles. You'll pass the Levee Trail, then hit the Gateway Connector. To the right and way up is Bell Pass. Go left and find your way to the Windgate Trail. It's sort of hard to find and I don't think it's well-marked yet. But it will go right and up, up, up as described by az_cholla. Take it all the way up to the saddle. That is Windgate Pass.

    From there, you can go back down, then break off left (on the way down) on the Bell Loop. You'll have passed that on the way up on your right. If you take that, it goes up and over to the Bell Pass Trail. When you hit it, turn right and it will take you back to Paradise.

    You can also go down the backside of Windgate, following the initial path of the Quad Bypass. It's a bit tricky to see where to turn right to navigate over to Bell, but look closely for a trail branching off to the right. When you spot it, go right (south) and follow the trail. After a while, after a steep uphill, a trail will branch left. Don't go left, keep going up and follow this. It will take you to Bell Pass. You can then go down to the west, which will take you back to Paradise. Note that this is a sketchy downhill, with some very steep, switchbacked sections.

    After reaching Paradise again however way, follow it back to Quartz, then go left and up Quartz. Reverse your trail, back up to the Overlook, then back on Lost Dog to 124th St.

    That's a solid 3 1/2 - 4 hour ride. On a SS...props!
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  6. #6
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    I am thinking the Northern Double Bypass sounds about right.

    Starting from Basha's at around 12-1 if anyone wants to come.

    Thanks for the clear directions. I'll have to do it from memory, but it sounds like the route-finding is not too bad. Up Windgate. Bear right to Bell. Up Bell, down Bell, then it gets a little unclear...how do I get back to the car. I would guess I need to go North a bit.

    Also..I love National, but have done it a few times, and want to explore different valley rides for now. From what I have seen of the various "bypass" routes, a 25 mile ride in this area would be outstanding training for the Whiskey 25.

  7. #7
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    The only way that I know to connect back to the main 2-track is to continue all the way down Bell until it crosses the first 2-track. From there, continue straight on a very rocky, lightly-used 2-track until you T into the main 2-track. That 2-track (heading left) will take you directly back to the 104th parking area.

    Be careful out there!
    "The secret of joy is the mastery of pain." (Anaïs Nin)

  8. #8
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    Ouch!

    Fun but tough ride. I ended up going up Windgate, around and over Bell Pass, and back down.

    Thanks to everyone, especially Walt for the great directions. The maps posted on the Quad thread were also invaluable. No real problems with route finding except for finding Windgate at the bottom. I was actually heading the right way the first time, but the "no public access" signs threw me off and I spent about 20 minutes cruising around to find the trail. Once on it, and off the double track, it was obvious....and painful.

    I don't think I would want to attempt the Quad without gears personally. I've basically done all the climbing of a quad two days apart, and I'm still quite worked over. My fitness...mainly strength is not where it needs to be. I simply ran out of muscle, especially in my arms and hands to continue pushing that SS. Lots of walking up the middle portion of Windgate. Not bad at the top. The climb up Bell wasn't bad at all, but still had a few hike a bike sections. The turn off onto Bell is easy to see if you are looking for it. If not, it would be easy to blow past as you fly downhill with tunnel vision.

    I would grade these climbs like this, hardest to easiest (relative, none are easy).

    East Sunrise > South Windgate > East Bell > West Sunrise > I imagine North Windgate...(it didn't seem too rough). I also imagine that West Bell is the worst of all.

    Was that a 200 foot fountain I saw in the distance on the back side? What a stupid idea, but really noticable.

    Anyway, not exactly what I would call a pleasant or fun ride, but really challenging and enjoyable with great views and punishing climbs.

    Can anyone explain why, when the going is the roughest, the Knight Rider TV theme starts going through my head? Keeps me going I guess....super pursuit mode Kitt.

    Anyway, I loved my McDowell experience, hopefully will be back for more. and see the other side and the last section of the Quad.

  9. #9
    I am Walt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    I don't think I would want to attempt the Quad without gears personally. I've basically done all the climbing of a quad two days apart,
    Actually, you're one Bypass short. You've done Sunrise (1), then Windgate (2) and Bell (3). The fourth Bypass will be Windgate again (4), after climbing up from Golden Eagle and the Dixie Mine Trail. That's alot more climbing, not to mention the climbing from the Hidden Hills TH, after dropping down Sunrise, over to Fountain Hills.

    And I agree with you about the gears. I did the first Double on the SS, and it was a slog. Just wasn't fun pushing that gear. That's one of the reasons I got the RIP9.

    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    I also imagine that West Bell is the worst of all.
    Unrideable the top 1/2 mile or so. The first time we had a group ride out there, we went up this way and it was a slog...

    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    Was that a 200 foot fountain I saw in the distance on the back side? What a stupid idea, but really noticable.
    Yep, that's the fountain in Fountain Hills.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by waltaz
    Actually, you're one Bypass short. You've done Sunrise (1), then Windgate (2) and Bell (3).
    Ahh, but I did Sunrise both ways, so I figure that counts for two. Coming back was the worst climb of the lot by the way. Steeper than Windgate, but over faster.

    You all have your work cut out for you. I'm worked and feeling it today.

    Enjoy the quad and pace yourselves.

  11. #11
    I am Walt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enel
    Ahh, but I did Sunrise both ways, so I figure that counts for two. Coming back was the worst climb of the lot by the way. Steeper than Windgate, but over faster.

    You all have your work cut out for you. I'm worked and feeling it today.

    Enjoy the quad and pace yourselves.
    Oops...you're right! My bad. You got some stout SS riding in. The climb up Bell from the West is worse that that E-W Sunrise climb.
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  12. #12
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    Enel - good to hear that you enjoyed your rides in the McDowells. Even better to hear that a Prescottonian, elevation "training" advantage and all, can feel the struggle of these climbs. Like Walt, those are local trails (ride to them from home), so let me know the next time you're in the 'hood. I can usually make some time for an up Windgate/down Bell (or a rare up Bell/down Windgate like my previous picture post thread) or Quartz to Lost Dog/Ringtail to Sunrise ride.

    Also agree with the gears comment. The problem I've found with SS'ing these climbs (32x20 29er) is that the hands/shoulders/arms fatigue into relative uselessness (only good for steering and braking) before the lungs and legs from all the hard pulling on the bars.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by V02 deficient
    The problem I've found with SS'ing these climbs (32x20 29er) is that the hands/shoulders/arms fatigue into relative uselessness (only good for steering and braking) before the lungs and legs from all the hard pulling on the bars.
    Ahhhhhh, Yup. I hear you there. Then add in nearly nonstop, hard braking for 5 minutes at the top of Bell and my arms/hands were totally gone.

    I need to start doing arm weights for those kind of climbs. Also, my wuss white collar hands need some good callouses.

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