Friday, July 29, 2011

Life Amid the Red Rocks

Buttes behind Red Rock State Park
Went on vacation this week with the family and of course that meant taking the Coy Mistress along for those escapades at dawn when no one is awake.  Many of the roads in the vicinity of Cornville, Az where our timeshare was are zero shoulder roads but many were rideable and quite beautiful.

Cathedral Rock near Red Rock State Park
I only really had 2 objectives to do this week and that was to ride to Sedona and also to climb Mingus Mtn. .   I ended up forgetting my helmet, gloves, and cycling cap but since I brought the family's cycling gear along I had an extra helmet I could use.  On the first day I forgot to bring water on my way out so it was pretty critical I make it to Sedona so I could buy water and calories of some sort.  The morning was beautiful and I didn't sweat too much on the way up so it worked.

Red Rocks near Red Rock State Park
Most of the Journey from Cottonwood/Cornville up to Sedona is rolling fields of green mesquite and catclaw but nearing town you enter a land of red buttes and Canyon walls.  Many come from far and wide to see the rocks or if they are particularly wealthy,  move in.  I only had one behave stereotypical at me and honk and tell me to get off the road.  I waved at him as he spead off.

Oak Creek below Red Rock State Park
I opted to ride the Red Rock Loop on the way home to see what Red Rock State Park was all about having never visited.  I had been to Red Rock Crossing a lot but never downstream to the park.  Having only about a half mile of paved roads it wasn't much for a road biker of course.  I did get about a mile of dirt in before I got to the park as the Loop is not entirely paved.  I purchased entry into the park when I got there so the Fam could come back later and see it.

Sign says it's open 24 hours!
On Thursday I had decided to climb Mingus Mt.   I was going to do it with the local group that does it on Thursdays but through emails I found out no one would likely be there so owing to insomnia and waking up full of racing thoughts and angst (hate it when that happens),  I decided the Coy Mistress and I would work all this out on a 3000' climb an hour earlier.  The Coy Mistress is a good therapist.  Earlier also meant less traffic which is good since there is no shoulder going up the narrow winding road through Jerome and up the mountain.
Curves, Mountain grades sign on the way into Jerome city limits.
I've always wanted to climb Mingus mountain since it is one of the larger climbs in the state.  Add to the fact there is an awesome city built on the steepest part of the climb and you have a fantastic ride.  I found myself climbing most of the way through Cottonwood in the hour before sunrise and occasionally would be passed by a cement truck or a work truck speeding busily on to the days work.  Temps were in the mid 70's and it was as near a perfect morning as you can get.   Working my way through the Cottonwood and Sycamore trees was beautiful but soon I was working my way up the dry climb to Jerome.

Corner just before entering Jerome proper.
Jerome is an interesting town.  It clings to the side of a steep hill.  It clings hard.  In fact,  it's so clingy that despite the mines having shutdown 60 years ago it is still there.  It prides itself as a ghost town and as a tourist destination being full of shops and boutiques, and mining Museums.  Theres a state park there too which I'd visit later with the family.

Highway leaving Jerome and climbing into the hills.
The funny thing about Jerome is you go from a nice 7% grade heading into town, to a 10% grade through town.  If you walk,  then you walk in plain site of all the people who might be out at 6:00 in the morning.  I did not have to walk.  Although if I did there was only 1 guy out sweeping or something like that.

The climb up Mingus from Jerome was a beautiful climb without too much traffic. There were spots that were 62 degrees and of course it is always nice to get up to the pine trees. I was surprised that the steepest part was actually inside of Jerome.

Every tall hill has at least one fake top that is REALLY convincing as you see it ahead for a mile or two before you hit it. Of course, the fake top is usually within a mile or two of the top, This climb was no different. Once I was finally at the top though it was nice to see the sign saying I was over 7000 feet and a nice picnic area which I would later bring the family up to for a cool lunchtime picnic.

I ended up getting back at 9 or so. Not too bad for a big climb and a ton of scenery. I can see why the local folks climb it once a week


Now, I hurried on this blog post because I need to get it posted before I get Saturday's ride done. Saturday, the two Mikes (Sturgill and Enfield) and I will be riding the Dirty Mogollon Mormon Madness 200k. Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile know that this is a special ride. This year I hope to have my helmet cam and a better still camera along. The scenery is epic, the roads are epic, the elevation is challenging, and it looks like we might have thunderstorms. It promises to be a challenging yet rewarding ride. We will see.
You can get anything you want here I understand.


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