Yesterday I went for a photo hike in the desert behind Jay’s parents house. I was amazed at how active the desert was with so many birds chirping and lizards darting around. Soon the desert will start blooming again with beautiful bright cactus flowers, but for now spring is through song.
View Irregular Link video by clicking HERE or viewing below
The riding in Phoenix is the reason I am a good technical rider. It was here that I learned to ride and honed my skills. I have since expanded my skills and learned to deal with forest terrain, dirt jumps and real weather. Still, every time I am in Phoenix for a while I feel the need to mostly avoid all the well traveled and smooth (by comparison) intermediate trail. It’s not that it’s too easy or that it lacks fun. A lot of trail 100 is fast and flowing. It’s just that the outcome is so certain due to so much practice. I can ride trail 100 on the darkest night without so much as a flash light because I know where every rock is. This is why I am drawn like a moth to the Gnarr. Here the trails don’t even have formal names, and narrow to things that look like goat paths. Sometimes they are seldom traveled old abandoned roads.
View video by clicking HERE or viewing below.
On some of the really steep stuff I just know that if I try it one more time on the next ride I may successfully ride over it with out any walking or even a dab (putting a foot down). Of course out here the stakes are high, exposure, jagged rocks and all manors of spiny plants are the consequence of failure. I have at times experienced all of these consequences. Keeping both feet firmly planted and cranking on the pedals is the name of the game. Over the years the repeat it until you ride it strategy has panned out. South Mountain is the Phoenix park most known for its technical challenges, but lurking down unnamed trails in humble Dreamy Draw park you will find just as much challenging terrain. It’s all there if you look for it. You have to venture off into the difficult stuff to stay sharp. Piestewa (formerly known as squaw peak) is where a lot of it also lurks. Local riders know certain trails well, like the irregular link, and the VOAZ loop because they offer up a lot the Gnarr. Here is a ridge I only just noticed and successfully rode on the first attempt because failure is no option here.
Ridge O doom – view by clicking HERE or seeing below
I am happy to announce that I received a helmet mountable video camera for Christmas from my parents. This means that you can expect to see high definition videos like these instead of lame cell phone pictures only when I actually remember to take them. A huge improvement.
Sharon’s riding has progressed a lot. In this clip she rides confidently down a rubble strewn hill.
This one shows how Lost Arrow Trail rides now. After all the recent rain it now rides much better. As you can see it’s very fast flowing.
Both of these were shot with my new Go Pro HD Hero2 camera. It’s currently mounted to my helmet with the vented helmet mount which uses straps. I may yet figure out how to mount the more solid curved surface stick-on mount to my helmet for even less vibration. I am very impressed with how easy this thing is to use right out of the box, but I still have a lot to learn about this new camera, video technique and especially editing.
Jay riding Lost Arrow
Since Sharon and I are staying in Phoenix for a little while, I took the time to contact Paul Paonessa, a city of Phoenix park ranger and friend. I have known Paul for many years; he was my mentor for my Eagle Scout project. Paul gave me the low down on some trail work happening very nearby in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. What a fun new trail segment! Paul is very skilled at trail layout and design so it’s always great to learn more from the master.
Dan riding Lost Arrow
There is a small and dedicated team of volunteers who did the bulk of the work on this segment. I was able to quickly join their ranks and help bust out some trail. The trail is called Lost Arrow because the original 1970’s master plan called for an archery range in the area, which never happened.
The trail twists and turns a lot, following the contours quite well with only one switch back in the segment. The segment is a little over a mile. It has a couple wash crossings with one including some rock armoring. I am looking forward to riding on the new trail again now that some much needed rain has had a chance to soak it. This should make the trail tread much harder and make for some faster riding.
The desert always amazes me by how alive and colorful it is. In particular, birds and cacti in the desert give an amazing variety and vibrancy. Here are some of the photos I have taken in the last week in Papago Park and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.
reflections in the pond at Papago
Top of a red barrel cactus
Bird at Papago Park
cactus at a rainy sunrise
bird on ocotillo
Phoenix Mountain Preserve
bird in Phoenix Mountain Preserve
bird in Phoenix Mountain Preserve
ornament in the desert