Friday, January 6, 2017

Picketpost to nowhere

I try to ride my age in miles on my birthday each year, but I wasn't able to ride on my birthday, so I started making plans for New Years.

I floated the idea of riding Picketpost to Kelvin, which I had never ridden, and Jake jumped at the idea. He mentioned he had never seen the Coke Ovens up close, so I made a route that would take us by the Coke Ovens, cross the Gila River and finish in Florence via some easy dirt road riding. This would also allow us to drop a vehicle in Florence on our way to the Picketpost Trailhead for a shorter overall trip. Win-win, right?

I saw that John had recently ridden this area so I figured we had a couple places to cross the river based on his ride report.

We loaded up early, dropped off my truck in Florence and got on the bikes just as the sun was coming up.

Picketpost selfie

Jake rides up one of many climbs
We started out nice and easy and started ticking off the miles, stopping plenty for pictures. It had rained pretty good for the past several days, so there were some wet spots here and there, but the trail was in great shape.

Looking east
We didn't see anyone else out on the Arizona Trail (AZT), but did cross paths with some folks out four-wheeling.

It was cool to see so much water out in the desert!

Water crossing!

The climbs never seemed to stop, even though my GPS showed that we were "ridiculously close to the top". 

Unrelated note: I don't think Jake trusts my GPS anymore.

Jake rides up one of many climbs
Finally we reached the top and were rewarded with a great view.

Looking south
I took my phone out of airplane mode and was able to send a few texts to my wife. Then it was time to head down to the river. It's all downhill, or at least it looked that way on the GPS.

Still south

Yup, south

We finally reached the point where the AZT heads east towards Kelvin, but we went west to check out the Coke Ovens.

Coke Ovens

Coke Ovens with bikes
I was pretty tired by this point so I took off of my pack, shoes, helmet and gloves and sat down to eat some snacks. I didn't quite pack enough food, but Jake shared some of his goodies.

I was excited to get over the river and have a nice easy roll into town to get a burger!

We rode down to the river and looked for a nice place to cross.

Looking south, but not heading south [Photo by Jake]
The problem was all that rain cause the river to swell! I felt foolish for not considering this. We tested a few spots and ended up in a bunch of mud. In the end the river looked too deep and fast to cross safely.

After ruling out the river we contemplated lugging our bikes up and over a mountain to get home. That didn't seem feasible either so we ended up with the only option left: take an additional ten mile detour though some rugged jeep roads.

We were able to send some texts home saying we'd be late, but mostly had no service.

While we were backtracking to the jeep roads, we met a couple out four-wheeling in a pickup who offered to take us across the river. Once they saw the water though they turned around and decided to go out the jeep roads too. Thankfully they were willing to carry a couple of dirty muddy mountain bikers and their gear too. Those jeep roads are no joke though and it took several hours to get back to town.

I didn't get all my miles, but I definitely got my elevation. We had an adventure and stayed alive. Next time I think I'll stick to the plan!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 by the numbers

Here are my bicycling totals for 2016. Elevation gain is way up! I also did my longest ride of 62 miles, and finished the Kentucky Camp endurance event.


Distance1,717.1 mi
Time158h 57m
Elev Gain65,043 ft

Here are my 2015 numbers for comparison


Distance1,650.0 mi
Time131h 38m
Elev Gain36,732 ft

Strava includes yearly summaries so I pulled the numbers from there.