Day 3 - Plan …. Z? Highway to hell?
The nights sleep was very good in surprisingly comfortable beds. Without any special rush we found ourselves eating breakfast at 7.45. We stayed strong and didn’t get pie either. We aren’t sure that was the correct choice. However it was pretty clear the next choice we were about to make wasn’t the right one!
As we headed down the dirt road that google maps bike directions was guiding us on, we saw some ominous signs - literal ones - that said “Locked gate ahead. No access” Surely that sign was not relevant to us, we had directions ! From google! They are never wrong?
We found ourselves on an amusement park style road with lots of steep features and trail that would be a blast in a high suspension, big horse power vehicle. However, on fully loaded hard tails, on tired legs, it proved quiet a challenge. After about 2 miles we pushed up a shockingly steep hill. As Crys and Sara got to the top, we all looked at each other. Without any clear suggestion that the road would connect through we need to pow-wow.
A decision was made - I’d push on and Crys and Sara would head back. Either the signs were misleading or I’d head back toward them. Otherwise I’d get through to the car and come back and collect them from the pie shop. Crys and Sara liked this idea, as spending the next two hours in a pie shop seemed better than suffering through a rough 4x4 road that might have to be backtracked.
Off I went at a brisk pace to see the fate on this road. Up, down, avoid the ATVers. As I came down to the Still-dry Agua Fria, I saw the gate, with its many warnings of security cameras, lawful punishment and unlawful punishment. But did it have a lock? I pushed it open and it swung on its hing. I was through!
The road improved shortly after the gate, which in hindsight appeared more about keeping the rental ATVs in their designated area than it appeared to be about punishing a bike packer just trying to get back to his car.
I came upon a lone hiker as I headed further. Very odd, but I offered him some of my water which he accepted. As we chatted I started to get an off vibe so I said my goodbyes and moved on. Another mile and I started to enter an area of old trailers and wrecked RVs as well as people setting up for some ‘fun’ automatic rifle practice. I peddled faster.
The next surprise - google bike directions showed me going down a road called ‘Gasline Road’. As I stood and looked out along the turn it wanted me to make, I couldn’t tell it was a road at all. It appeared they had dug a trench, buried a pipe and then covered it back up. And they did it in the straightest line they could. Straight up mountains, straight down too. There was no way I could bike that! Well, the road I was on was good so I figured I’d blissfully follow that in hopes it would work. It did, for about 3 miles where it wanted to dump me out on I-17. I wasn’t in the mood for a date with high speed vehicles so I looked around and saw a dirt track that had a fence across that said ‘Please close behind you’. Well, that was enough of an invitation for me!
As I pedaled down the dirt track I was happy to see I paralleled the highway. After a few more miles the road gained some definition and before I knew it I intersected the Black Canyon Trail. Yippie! A short jaunt down the trail, with a few last kick in the pants obstacles on the trail, and I was dumped out to the trailhead with my vehicle! Yes!!!
A note was on the windshield - Did I park overnight somewhere I shouldn’t have? Nope - just a note from someone at bikepacking.com saying ‘good job! Here are some stickers.’ Okay, that made the whole ordeal worthwhile!
I collected sara and Crys and we headed off to do some, what else, local day rides in the Sedona area for a few days before we have to head home to meet Andrew as he comes back.
Sara’s summation of the trip: “I wouldn’t call it a failure, but….. it didn’t go as planned. “