Route number- 698
Route name- Lonely Conquistador 300K
Distance (km)- 302
Shape- out & back
Climbing (ft)- 15000
Location- starts/ends in Clifton, AZ
Dates available- 04/01-11/30
Contact- Paul Layton
Date approved- 2009/10/05
Last reviewed- 2009/10/06
Description- An extremely remote and mountainous 300K gong from deserts to Alpine forests via the Coronado trail in eastern Arizona.
Organizer's URL- http://randocommute.blogspot.com/
If you can find a harder 300k than this that can still be completed in the time limits you will have looked far and wide. The route has around 9000' of climbing on the way up to the turn around and about 6000' on the way back down. Now, as if that was not enough, there is not a single store for the just over 90 miles up to the turnaround and none on the way back since this is an out and back. It's a one control permanent with 0 turns other than the turnaround. Simplicity in itself. This road is extremely curvy has over 460 curves with most of them in the first half keeping the traffic speeds to a minimum. Did I mention traffic? Adot estimates 10 cars per day on this stretch of hwy. This road used to be old route 666 and called the "devil's hwy" but it has since been redesignated. It is now called the Coronado trail, hence the lonely conquistador. Unless you bring a friend you will find lots of solitude. You start in Clifton/Morenci and star the climbing immediately. Up through the mines you ride and work into switchbacks which will pull you up into the pines on your first monster hill of the day. at a whopping 6800' feet you pass a campground that has seasonal water (late spring, summer, early fall, check with the forest service before you go though unless you stash water). After your first summit of 7200' you will drop down to 6000' feet. You will drop out of the pines into high grassland and rolling hills which will tend upward over the next 10-20 miles as you approach the big hill up to Blue Vista. Before the final climb to blue vista there is another campground with water at 7600' and 64 miles out of Clifton. When you get to Blue Vista you will be at 9200' feet, a long way above the elevation of 3400' you started at. You will also find yourself riding among tall spruces and douglas fir trees with aspen and oak groves as well as you trend downhill to the grand town of Alpine Arizona and it's lone gas station where you will turn around. There are restaurants in town, not many but there are if you want to get some grub before heading back. Don't assume it is all downhill going home though! there are almost 6000 feet of climbing going back! If you finish this ride you will indeed be a Conquistador!
Now a word of warning. This is an extremely remote ride and if you are unprepared, not fit enough to handle this kind of climbing, or unable to estimate your food needs for a 8-10 hour slog think twice before doing this unless you have a friend with a car that can dig you out in an emergency. To get credit any help can only meet you at Alpine or Clifton and you likely will not have cell service most of the route. You will have to carry what you need up 10,000' of climbing over 90 miles and then going back as well over 6000' feet of climbing. If the water is turned off at the campgrounds you will need to stash water. Due to the elevation this permanent is runnable in the summer but you would need to leave very early in the morning to ensure cool temperatures for the first climb which is around 4000' within 20 miles. Once you are over 6000' feet it will be cool enough for sustained riding unless there is an unusually high heatwave. In the winter time there will be snow and lots of it in the high country and the roads may or may not be plowed. I would not recommend riding this between November and late March if you want to successfully finish under the time limit and even then you will be hard pressed.