I left Globe and first backtracked a bit on yesterday's route to check out a small airport were some derelict planes were hanging out. When I passed them the previous evening it was too dark to get any good photos. One of these things is not like the other:
After that it was back to Globe for some fresh tracks. I headed south and climbed Pinal Mountain. It was cold at the top, barely above freezing. My bike's thermometer helpfully starts blinking below about 37 degrees Fahrenheit, as if to say “What kind of idiot rides in this sort of weather?”
I checked out the radio towers at the top before deciding yes, my hands are freezing off. Time to boogey.
To the south, where I would soon be riding:
The ride down the other side proved a little more wild. I ran into several rock slides, which had been tamped down and clearly traversed by vehicles many times. I was getting into this-makes-me-nervous territory, but I persevered. There's always the Free Helicopter Ride button on the SPOT.
The grade got steeper as I went down. Like, really steep. I was again getting a little worried that if I hit an impassible rock slide, I would have a lot of trouble going back up. Luckily, I wouldn't have to, I hit the basin and did a little riding through it until I hit a junction. To my left was Pioneer Pass, and what looked like a well traveled road. To my right was what could barely be described as a 4-wheeler trail, heading towards Pioneer Basin. My GPS naturally routed me to the right, but in fairness I was the one who laid out these tracks in the first place.
I began heading down again on the narrow path. I was beyond any chance of turning around at this point. Even if I could have, I didn't want to go up what I was going down. Loose, rutted, sandy mixed with big rocks. Amazingly I got down without dropping the bike. Check out 5:45 for a little WTF.
Note: Right after I turned off the camera is when it got hairy. The brush on both sides closed in and it more or less because singletrack, with a ton of big loose rocks. And I caught a 90 pound fish!
Eventually I made it to the bottom of the basin, and an actual dirt road. I got out to the pavement and headed on to my next section of dirt. I was stymied by some private property and a mine before I found a turn I could actually take. It may be said that I can't take a hint. I passed under a train trestle and worked my way to the top of one side of a massive arroyo. You can see the road going up the other side.
Once again this was a little hairy compared to what I normally do on solo trips, but I could literally see the nearby town from my vantage point. I dropped the bike on the way down into the wash, as the picture completely misses just how steep, twisty, and sandy the descent was. I paused for a few moments in the wash to collect myself, then nailed the gas up the other side. No drama!
I then ran into a fence (well, not literally
), marking off yet another mining area. I followed a pipeline road hoping to get back out to the main road, or at least around the mine. I ran into a locked gate on private property, so I followed the only other option, a power line road that wove over a series of ridges and arroyos. It was getting a little tough on some of the climbs due to lots of ruts and large loose rocks.
Well, it's all fun. Right up to the point that it isn't. I finally found that point. (Fast forward to around 6:00 if you don't want to watch me flounder through the desert).
My ankle was hurting pretty good, even despite the adrenaline. I didn't feel any grinding so I figured nothing was broken, but I was ready to be done with this crap right about now
The powerline ran straight into a paved road, which I happy took back into town. All in all I had probably spent 40 minutes to “shortcut” about 10 miles of pavement. That's why they call it a shortcut, if it were easy it would just “the way”.
My ankle was really starting to hurt as the adrenaline wore off. I stopped on the side of the road to pull off my boot and really check that yes, all my bones were still inside
my leg. It was swelling just enough to make my boot fit tightly, but there wasn't any visible bruising. There wasn't much to do about it but carry on and try not to drop any more motorcycle shaped anvils on it.
I scaled the “back” of Mount Lemmon. Saw this horse along the way... may have been wild? There are cattle guards but not really a whole lot else out there.
The road seemed to go up forever. In reality it was probably only a few thousand feet, but they decided to add a ton of switchbacks lest someone feel shorted. If you look really close you can spy the road weaving up the mountain.
Riding down the other side of Mount Lemmon into Tucscon was amazing. I could have spent an entire day just taking pictures of the rock formations and vistas. What I ended up with simply doesn't do the road and the scenery justice.
I passed right by Agua Caliente, a natural oasis. It's pretty wild to be riding through a mostly barren desert and suddenly come upon a bunch of palm trees. A little too surburban-ized for my taste, but it was interesting nonetheless.
A woodpecker was going to town on one of them. Looking for water? Building a home? Waking up the neighbors?
I was about to make a quick pitstop before I left, when...
Uh, waiter, there's a lizard in my... soup? When I first approached, he played it cool. “Sup man. Yeah I do this all the time. Fuhgeddaboutit.” I was trying to figure out how he managed to get in there to begin with. I grabbed a stick and freed him from his urinal of oppression.
One more pic of this sign, filed under "You Don't Say!"
The early sunset forced me to abandon the rest of what I had planned and I just headed into Tucson for the night. My ankle was really killing me by this point. As I unloaded the bike I kept my boot on for extra support, I could barely maintain a geriatric limp to the room. I was starting to think this trip may already be over, and I hadn't even gotten to the good part!