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  1. #1
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    Reputation: ignazjr's Avatar
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    All I Wanted for Christmas aka Escape to Phoenix (long)

    Since I don't really know where to start, I guess I will start at the beginning. My wife's 2 brothers live in Phoenix and one of them recently bought a house. It went something like this. "Dave, want to go to Phoenix for Chrismas this year?" "No." "hmmm, hey Dave, want to go to Phoenix for Christmas?" "No." "We'll drive - you should bring your bike." "Ok. We should go to Phoenix for Christmas after all. Great idea." I was in!

    The drive was shaping up to be exciting, especially given that the worst storm so far this winter was pounding everything from the southwest to the midwest. The drive ended up being not so bad once we got past Glenwood Canyon in CO.

    We cut thru Moab on our way. The LaSals were looking top notch with fresh snow.


    A few sketchy bits in southern UT and we were good to go. Funny thing driving across the desert - there was snow on the ground the ENTIRE way until we dropped into the desert after leaving Flagstaff. But enough of that, on to the good stuff.

    Day one and the family took off for something leaving me alone at Uncle James' house with the girls. I peered over his concrete block "fence" and saw and empty lot and a Walmart in one direction. In the other direction, I see South Mountain!



    S. Mountain is the largest municipal park in the country. City of Phoenix owns and maintains this 18,000 acre monster. Just how big is it, you ask? Well, it's damn big and what you see here is just barely a little bit of it. South Mountain is more like a complex of desert mountains rising up from the Valley of the Sun. I would later find that Uncle James' house is much like having a ski in/ski out condo at the base of a mountain.
    After the family returned from errand running, it would be time to check out the trails. But first, some bike cleaning was in order. 15+ hours driving on gunky roads does not equal a beautiful ready to ride bike.



    You could imagine what the rest of it looked like.

    Finally, ride time! The Mormon Trail, or 24th St as it's locally known was the closest trailhead. It was recommended to me by locals to not try to climb Mormon. As my wife would say, though, I am not a good listener. It was hard as hell, but a great climb nonetheless. I walked quite a bit climbing up this technical beast of a trail.



    My plan was to hit National Trail - a trail at S Mt that is ironically nationally known to be quite good.



    It was. I rode it as an out and back as I didn't really know what to expect for time and effort and all that good stuff. Last thing I wanted to be was late getting back to the inlaws on Christmas Eve. That could have a suboptimal impact on my riding other days in Phoenix. The return trip included riding the infamous "Waterfall on National Trail."



    The waterfall feature was cool. Definitely mind over matter, even though I took one of the easier lines. Later down the trail, not knowing the line, I left a little Stan's on the trail



    in a super chunky section that left me gasping for air as well as needing to reinflate my majorly burped (but still sealed) tire. Back down Mormon trail did not dissapoint. It was techy going down. I think I walked 5 times in the superchunk.

    Day 2, Christmas Day. Up Mormon again, but this time my plan was to climb National a ways and drop down the "backside" of the mountain, loop back around a swoopy trail called Desert Classic, then up the frontside and back down Mormon. That was a good day. I was able to climb a little more of Mormon than the day before. National is a good climb, too. I ran in to a Flagstaff guy escaping the snow as well. Here's a shot of him hitting the waterfall, just to give it different perspective. It was a super sweet section of tricky trail.



    Thankfully, some locals provided me with a user GPSed map of South Mountain that included some trails that weren't exactly authorized by City o Phoenix. I can see why. Old Man was steeper than shite and full of loose shale and Cactus. Old Man was the type of trail that you could tell where it started, but there were no bike tracks. I picked up my bike and hiked in to preserve its authenticity
    It turned out to be one of my favorite trails there, until I sliced my front tire on a rock and sent Stan's spewing in every direction. I can definitely see the need for riding something beefier than a single ply tire in this terrain.



    I booted the tire and used one of my 2 tubes. I walked a lot down the rest of the descent because I didn't want to burn thru all of my tubes in one ride. It would make a super long walk home, too. It turned out to be a long ride home anyway. Desert Classic was ok. Lots of pedaling in and out of desert washes with moderate up and down. Lots of pedaling. Good connector, but nothing I'd go out of my way for. The rest of the ride was good. This time, I only had to walk 3 times coming down Mormon

    Day 3 of riding was the best, the day after Christmas. Steve-O from Smoken">http://www.smokenspokes.com/index.php/about-smoken-spokes">Smoken Spokes and part of the AZ Freeride collective was running the shuttle on South Mountain. I hooked up with Durtgurl, a local friend of a friend, to run some shuttles and see some of South Mountains finer descents.


    They looked at me kinda funny since they all had big dh bikes, full faced helmets, and body armor. I had on my normal get up - baggies, jersey, XC helmet. They especially looked at me funny when I declined the offer of extra armor. I told them that if I wasn't confident, I'd walk, no worries. More funny looks. There's a write up of the day on mtbr">http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=580986">mtbr here. We made 4 runs that day. To be completely honest, I was glad to be on my Tomac Snyper. One of the trails would've been more fun on a big bike, but the rest involved lots of pedaling. We started on Geronimo. That was a full speed, moderately technical hoot all the way to the bottom. Next up, we rode down National to an unmarked trail, 32nd street. I loved 32nd. It was a lot like North Sheep Mountain in our locale but without the forest or the fun swoopy stuff. Steep, channeled out and lots of shale rock. fun. Holbert Trail was probaby the toughest and would've been more enjoyable on a bigger bike. The upper section was smoove and swoopy, but the middle section and the lower section were pretty gnarly. Lots of chunk, rocks, and big drop offs. Really fun stuff. I would've walked quite a bit riding solo but I was fortunate to be following some very skilled riders that knew the line. I was able to clean everything, dabbing only twice when riders in front of me got hung up. On the last run, we rode down National and out on Mormon/24th Street. This time down Mormon, I only walked once and dabbed 2 other times - sweet! Next time I'm out, I'll clean that mofo. Shuttling was good. I'm a downhiller now, brah . Special thanks to Durtgurl for the good hookup and personal tour guiding!


    Day 4 - 2 days after the mega day of shuttling, I snuck out for a little ride. I had to say goodbye to South Mountain. I rode out the bike path to the main trailhead complex of the area. I climbed Javelina



    (great climb, by the way) and made my way to another unmapped or unmarked trail that I had heard about on shuttle day. It was pretty easy to find. Steep, too. A lot like the 32nd street run but a little shorter and not quite as enjoyable. There were some fun chunky sections, though...



    I stopped close to the bottom to reflect. Life was good. Christmas trip was good. South Mountain was good. And the location of Uncle James' house was especially good!
    One last reflection from this road tripper. Even though a bigger bike would've been fun on a couple of descents, I was incredibly, thoroughly impressed with my Tomac Snyper 140. It doesn't have the most sophisticated suspension in the world, but it rides so damn good in about every arena.



    To say I'm please would be a complete understatement. This bike was the bees knees. Johnny Tomac knows how to make a bike handle like nobodies business. I beat the **** out of this bike and came thru with nary a scratch. Well, there was that sliced tire. Oh, and a bent der hanger. Oh yeah, broken spoke, too. So maybe not quite nary a scratch. The desert riding is harsh on equipment down here but the Tomac was super solid. Super duper solid.

    The riding at South Mountain in Phoenix was also super duper solid. I'll be back. Next time, though, I think I'll have to nab the car for a day to check out some other riding areas around Phoenix. I've heard great things about Goat Camp...

    The drive back to Colorado was good. Got to see Monument Valley in the snow (abolutely beautiful)

    and even got to see snowplows in Moab

    which is a rare sight for this guy that only visits during prime conditions. The rest of the drive involved some definite white knuckle driving on I70 in the snow but we made it back in one piece. It was good to get home.

    The escape to the Valley of the Sun was just what the doctor ordered. Now, if we can get the doctor to order away all of this snow around Lyons, we'll be set!
    Redstone Cyclery
    turner*intense*transition*REEB*Rocky Mt
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    Lyons, CO

  2. #2
    ILIKEBIKES
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    Awesome! Looks like fun... My cousin lives in Gilbert and my Aunt in Queen Creek. 'Nother cousin in Glendale area. I have yet to take my MTB out there... Looks like I need to take it next time.

  3. #3
    Airborne Flight Crew
    Reputation: jhazard's Avatar
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    Keen review, thanks for the details. Have often wondered where to go to escape the Durango winter for some dh fun...
    Airborne Flight Crew

    Jerry Hazard website

  4. #4
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    Reputation: ignazjr's Avatar
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    The riding is definitely good down there. I'm kind of a forest guy myself, so after 4 rides, I was ready to get back in the trees, even if they are full of snow

    jhazard - not a bad drive from D town. I think we were only 5 or 6 hours drive from the 4 corners area if I'm not mistaken. Definitely go to get your DH on. When you get down there, get in touch with Steve-O from Smoken Spokes. He'll set you straight. I think they run shuttles a couple times per week out there.
    Redstone Cyclery
    turner*intense*transition*REEB*Rocky Mt
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    Lyons, CO

  5. #5
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    Reputation: cesslinger's Avatar
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    Good post Dave.

    I was the rider on the green Stinky.

    I was glad to see a new rider finally enjoy the shuttle trails. Most people quit before or after 1 run; on big bikes no less.

    I had a feeling you knew what was up and you stayed with the pack like a local regular.

    Come back in the spring or summer for Flagstaff. It is the bomb!

  6. #6
    Te mortuo heres tibi sim?
    Reputation: scrublover's Avatar
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    Sweet RR, Dave!

    A nice little treat for you; you don't get to get away from home too often!

    My one days spent riding at South Mtn. a few years ago rocked! Good stuff! The "waterfall" line really isn't that bad, just a bit disconcerting the first time you roll in to it. After doing it, it's really sorta' mellow.
    Florence Nightingale's Stormtrooper

  7. #7
    Ska
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    Steel is real.
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    Nice!

    Thanks for the hit!
    Here's my crummy, slow-going blog The Slow Spoke if you're interested.

  8. #8
    Shred...it's the new drug
    Reputation: latedropbob's Avatar
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    Looks like you had fun!!! Lady SOMO is my local hill and I love her to death. Looks like she treated you right and left you wanting more Bummer I missed that shuttle day with you, but there will be plenty more where that came from. Thanks for shining some light on our lady

  9. #9
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    Reputation: ignazjr's Avatar
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    latedropbob, I definitely enjoyed S. Mt. With my bro in law there, it's not a question of if I'll be back but when. I'll hit you guys up when that time comes. Chuck, great riding with you man. It was cool to watch you hit some big nutz moves on that Kona. I just might take you up on that Flagstaff offer. I've only heard good things.

    Scrub, not surprised you liked it. Seemed to be just your style
    Redstone Cyclery
    turner*intense*transition*REEB*Rocky Mt
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    Lyons, CO

  10. #10
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    Kudos on the Waterfall section! I've stood on top several times and psyched myself out just as many. But now that I see that line on the spine I may give it a go...

  11. #11
    Tear it all out! SuperModerator
    Reputation: CraigH's Avatar
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    Thanks for the trip report, South Mountain is a lot of fun.

    (Your link to the South Mtn shuttle day was messed up in your post, so here it is:
    Saturday Shuttle'z )

  12. #12
    Y no grease?ლ(ಠ益ಠლ
    Reputation: greasemeat's Avatar
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    Great write up bud, thanks for sharing. Funny how you fled snow, I was sick of the rain & we ended up in same place. Driving thru Phoenix from Tucson I wanted to take that S. Mtn exit so bad - but ran outta time & $$ and had to head home.

    I'm already looking for when I can get back. Great shots of Mormon trail etc, I can see what the Tomac folks meant about riding that on Snypers and coming up with the Vanish idea. Agree 100% about the Snyper tho, the other thing that hurts about leaving those trails so soon was how well the bike ripped on them - I was grinning like a moron the entire time.

    Lucky that you had mtb folks to ride with, I had to do it all solo since evidently I hang out with a bunch of lames LOL And I can say that without fear of repercussion since they don't visit this site, you see, because they're lame





    Last edited by greasemeat; 01-01-2010 at 11:51 PM.

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