Yesterday I went to Tucson for a niece's wedding reception and took advantage to bring the singlespeed along and visit the 50 Year Trail near Catalina. When I lived in Tucson and Oro Valley, I would ride this trail at least four times a week (since 1994) and it still remains one my favorite rides. But in the almost four years since I've moved to Phoenix, I have probably been on this trail only 5 times. Rain and erosion have taken their toll and places that I remember as sidewalk smooth are now rutted and bumpy. That's one of the things I love about mountain biking. Trails are living entities and they constantly evolve. So, each year brings new challenges to the same ride. Road rides are pretty much static and, usually, only the road surface changes and not always for the best. (As an example, I rode the TT bike down HWY 87 today, south of Chandler, and got a flat about 15 miles out, like I usually do on that section. The ride is always the same for people cycling that road, they see me standing on the shoulder with a look of extreme concentration as I am trying to figure out how to make my CO2 quick-fill work. I won't mention the CO2 cartridge taking off like a rocket and the dead rabbit since I do not have a hunting license. In fact, I look so stupid trying to fix a flat that everyone offers to do it for me even though the entire process takes me less than five minutes from flat to back on the road. I just have that "look". Tongue sticking half-way out. Narrowed eyes. Pointy head (The pointy head allows my helmet to sit at a rakish angle which gives me a touch of that "je ne sais quoi" air of suavity) And in a true Three Fingered Moment, I've forgotten where I was going with this aside. So let us return to the regularly scheduled crapola.
The parking lot at the end of Golder Ranch Road was, as is normal, pretty full. There were quite a few people riding on the lower trail out to the Chutes and I saw Dan, an old friend/neighbor. I see him every few years riding and we stopped and caught up for a while.
When I got to the Chutes, I decided to ride the long upper loop and quickly found out it was not as easy as it used to be. Let me rephrase that. it was never easy and had a couple of lung busting climbs, but I could ride the entire trail with, maybe, one dab. Of course, that was on a multi-geared bike. I discovered to my chagrin, and my knees' disappointment, that my singlespeed was not the best choice for the condition of the trail. I had to walk a few places I normally ride but, hey, that's part of the deal. I refuse to accept that my advancing age and weight have an affect on my riding capabilities.
It seemed that most people are avoiding this part of the upper loop. It used to be well ridden in, but yesterday I saw only two sets of tracks and that turned out to be one person who went up about a 1/4 mile then turned around. Too bad for them, it got better towards the top. A little rain just added to the fun.
I got to the fence line where the real joy, and challenge, begins and I just wimped out. So, I turned around and enjoyed the thrill of going down what I had just climbed. Except when both my pedals got jammed in the sides of a deep narrow cut in the trail and I almost went over the bars. I also left some skin from the side of my ankles in the same spot.
All in all, it was a excellent ride and I need to "come back home" more often.
The sun setting against Pusch Ridge. This view is one of the reasons I wish I hide never moved away.