The Climb, the Canyon, the Cows.
Grand Canyon, July 2010, 4 days
Every year I try to take at least one ride to the Grand Canyon.. it's close, it's amazing, it's a wonder of the world, for crying out loud! So this is a must do ride for me.. the highlight of my year.. probably the only reason i haven't despaired of living altogether.. well, maybe not the only reason.
So anyway, this year we got a little later ride in than usual, but it was fairly cool & we were mostly in higher elevations. We had 4 or 5 riders who were going to come, but things came up for everyone except Tom & I. So we met in Cottonwood, Az at Bill Gray road about 7am on 7/5, & began another epic ride to the Grand Canyon. I had rooms reserved at the maswik lodge & Tom always liked going there for the long island iced teas.
Bill Gray road turns to dirt almost immediately, & meanders in the foothills until we hit the powerline road going up Casner Mountain. This is a great ride by itself, & the first time we've done it at the start of the Grand Canyon ride.
The staging area.. just the bikes with the big church in the background.
We went up Bill Gray road for a while, then started up the powerline road, through the gate (no 4 wheeled vehicles!), & climbed the mountain. It is steeper than it looks in the video.. but when i look back, you can see how high we came. This part wasn't a particularly hard switchback.. i just was slowing to look at the views, & lost my momentum, then my balance.. my only drop of the ride, & we got into much nastier terrain. Perhaps i could suggest that i 'stopped' on purpose to take some pictures?
The view from where i 'stopped' in the above video..
More climbing up Casner..
The view toward Sedona.. it was a little hazy early in the morning from the fires on the north rim, & the ones that are mostly under control to the north east of Flagstaff.
..still more of the casner climb..
Here's Tom taking on one of the switchbacks..
The view to the northwest. It's getting some morning sun. We're still only about halfway up. We started at about 3k ft, & will climb to over 7k in the pines.
The riders.. Scotty & Tom.. hiding our faces under our helmets so as to travel incognito.
Once you get to the top of casner, there is still more climbing & following a ridge or saddle with spectacular views on either side. In the morning light, the green hills to the east overlap each other with great shadows.
Southeast toward Sedona..
Climbing again from the saddle..
Once on top, we got into the pines. The vegetation changes & the air gets cooler.. we're probably about 6500' in this area.
There were still plenty of rocky roads, though..
We had some views of the burn in the area last year.. it looks like they have been harvesting some of the burnt timber, which removes future fire fuel, & gets at least something good from the fire. It still looks bad, & you can smell the smoke as you pass through, even though it hasnt' rained in a while.
we were heading for Park, an old route 66 stop near I-40. We got on some nice cool roads in the pines.
After we crossed I-40, we filled our tanks in Park, had an ice cream break, & continued our way north to the canyon. We had a short bit of pavement around the I-40 corridor. But the road turned back into dirt, & we got onto the old stagecoach roads that are common in the area.
There was a lot of wildlife along these roads.. they were pretty slow getting off the road sometimes.. But you should always approach cows very slowly.. you want to make sure they don't spook & jump into you or suddenly dart in front of you. Big animals & little bikes do not mix well...
It was only about 10am, but we both had a sudden urge for a hamburger..
The terrain changed again & the pines slowly disappeared. We were now in open high prairie. There weren't too many trees, but some sage & a few grasses..
The road went on for miles.. long, flat & wide open. We had to keep alert for the ruts, though. They would appear suddenly & can easily flip you over or toss you off the side of the road. No daydreaming allowed.
We were on the coconino rim road for some of the ride, the Az trail for some, then got on grandview road as we got closer to The Canyon.
Soon we got off the dirt & turned onto hwy 64 that follows the canyon rim. We stopped here for our late lunch, enjoyed the views for a while, then turned to the village & our room for the night. It was now about 3pm. We had been riding for about 8 hrs in some pretty tough terrain. Plus we had to hit the tavern & sample the local brews, & get ready for some serious dinner fare.
No longer incognito.. posing for the paparazzi. Fortunately, there were mostly europeans & other foreigners at the GC & they didn't recognize us.
While staggering back from the tavern, we came upon a couple of these guys browsing along the railroad tracks.. There must have been a bright spotlight shining.. surely we weren't going home while it was still light..
We made it back to the room somehow, & fell asleep after catching some sportcenter for the important news of the day. We had a big day planned for tomorrow.. a long ride to the east of the canyon & through the Navajo rez.
End of Day 1.
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