AZ Singletrack - Sycamore Death March

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Yardstick, Mar 4, 2012.

  1. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    After hearing of impending closures of some of the most difficult singletrack trails at the Sycamore Creek riding area, I hatched a plan to ride them ALL in a day! :evil But who would sign up for this kind of torture? Slowred already tackled some of the worst this area has to offer, so he was a natural choice. We selectively invited a handful of others who happened to be "busy". :huh So we were on our own!

    Rather than spend much time on easier trails in the area, we made a beeline for the first of the worst called "Cement Creek". That's some rugged terrain out there.
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    The trail drops into this wash from one of two trails. Spot the one in this pic! :wink:
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    This is where that trail joins the newer one.
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    Slowred on the new path.
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    Looking down.
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    A couple more twists and turns and you get to the bottom.
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    #1
  2. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    But that's not where Cement Creek starts. Shortly after descending into the wash you climb right back out.
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    Last time I needed a breather about halfway up this.
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    But we're still not in the Creek. There's one more wash to descend into.
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    And climb back out of.
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    This is the top, "easier", section of the climb.
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    The trail looks like it would naturally continue straight. Fortunately someone has stacked rocks to coax riders to the left.
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    If you go straight, you take a shortcut (in the form of a cliff) back into the wash. :eek1
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    #2
  3. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Shortly after you climb out of the previous wash, you drop into the namesake Cement Creek. It looks like the remains of a solidified ancient pyroclastic flow.
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    And this is where the fun begins! :evil
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    The whole thing is narrow with a surface that varies between deep, soft, decomposed granite sand and this cement-like substance with embedded boulders that has worn over time.
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    There are a lot of narrow chutes.
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    And ledges.
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    The whole thing isn't very long, but it never lets you relax.
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    #3
  4. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Once in a while you get a choice between a ledge and a chute. In this case it was far better to take the ledge! That chute Slowred is looking into is six feet deep!
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    Occasionally, loose boulders add to the fun.
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    Here's a wide section.
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    But it quickly narrows.
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    Very narrow.
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    #4
  5. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    It goes on...
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    and on....
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    and on....
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    and on. But it's fun! :lol3
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    Those are some stubborn plants taking root in the "cement".
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    #5
  6. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Finally, the cement gives way to soft, decomposed granite sand wash. We rode that to the next trail on the agenda called, "Two Gates".
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    Going in reverse turned this into a much milder trail.
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    Normally you climb all these steep hills.
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    Going down is easier, but the penalty for failing is usually a higher speed impact.
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    Slowred inspects his front tire for a pinch flat after descending the steepest hill and slamming a rock at the bottom. The hill he just came down is the one shown from the top in the previous picture.
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    #6
  7. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    A few miles of deep sand wash with whoops and some rocky trail brings us to the next trail: Lost Hills.
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    Yep, he's still following. :D
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    The ribbon of trail crosses some of the hardest, steepest terrain this area has to offer.
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    Slowred picked his way to the top of this hill and tipped over.
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    Only to pick the bike up, make another run and launch the bike to the top.
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    This hill/chute has a way of bending radiators and re-oiling the air filter with engine oil. :eek1
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    #7
  8. mr.slowpokey

    mr.slowpokey Been here awhile

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    Nice RR. That's some hardcore riding, way beyond my skill level, I like it though.
    #8
  9. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    In the lifting process I fell into the ravine and bruised my palm. I still felt worse about Slowred's 350. :cry
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    We weren't past the point of no return, but the radiator wasn't leaking, so he soldiered on.
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    Notice the trail in the distance.
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    Here Slowred attacks it. It's a loose, rocky, slippery uphill. It's doable, but it takes a lot of energy.
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    We continue, up and a little down, up and little down.
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    And up...
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    To the top!
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    #9
  10. refokus

    refokus Hmmmmmm Supporter

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    Like I was saying earlier today, yuck......:lol3 But keep it coming. I want to make sure you two get to the end of this :eek1
    #10
  11. Baja Perro

    Baja Perro Adventurer

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    Totally awesome!!!!!! More,please!
    #11
  12. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    At the top there's a nice view of Bartlett Lake, way off in the distance.
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    And then it's time to go down. The "point of no return" is the point at which you are no longer willing to push, pull, drag or carry your bike back up this hill.
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    Looking back up, I'm nearing the point of no return already.
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    The camera always lies. If you can pick out Slowred in this picture, you can see he is not that far away in horizontal distance, but he has lost a lot of vertical distance already!
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    Looking back up again, I ask myself, "Do I have enough energy to get back up that?"
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    At this point, there is no returning.
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    The hill is steep and covered in softball sized rocks.
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    #12
  13. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    The only choice is down through more boulder field.
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    A few corners later it doesn't get any better.
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    I imagine going the opposite direction on this trail would rival anything in an "Extreme Enduro".
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    Even sections that look tame require your full attention.
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    Short, 10-20 foot sections are your "breathers".
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    It is possible to ride down the rocky hills.
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    But then you come to things like this and deploy the outriggers.
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    #13
  14. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Slowred had a case of "selective memory" and thought we were nearing the end. I assured him we still had some trail to ride. Time to take a break then.
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    Our energy was dwindling, but we got back to it.
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    The right line on this hill is new and much easier. :evil
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    There's no time to regroup at the top of the hill before dropping into another wash.
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    Some short, tight trails and narrow wash lead to the next hill climb. Slowred is generating dust here.
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    This hill is hard to describe. Imagine a hill shaped like the graph of an exponential function. Cover that hill in some kind of supernatural, self healing loose gravel that you can spin your tire into as much as you want without making a dent. We were denied. Fortunately I knew an alternate route out that was only about 90% as hard.
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    #14
  15. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    But we're not done yet! Some sandy, high speed jeep road with plenty of blind corners brought us to the Rattlesnake/Pickaxe loop.
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    It's like a mini-Lost Hills. Lots of off-camber riding on skinny trails traversing the foothills and valleys of the surrounding mountains.
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    And more rock/sand wash combination.
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    My only "artsy" picture of the day. This is an active wash and we crossed some water that was percolating out of the sand at one point. The dribbles of water can support some big trees!
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    More wash.
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    And more hills.
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    At this point we are both asking ourselves, "Are we there yet?"
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    #15
  16. Baja Perro

    Baja Perro Adventurer

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    Looks like two stroke country to me! HaHa. Great report, fellas. Thanks for posting it
    #16
  17. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    We took the easy way (boulder strewn jeep road) out of Pickaxe.
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    A short section of singletrack and a couple of quick splashes across Sycamore Creek and we were back to the trucks.
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    We traveled 43 miles in about 7 hours. A little more than half was "stopped" time. That's "stopped" as in lifting bikes and checking for damage as well as resting.

    I didn't really know how tired I was until after the hour long drive home. I could barely get myself out of my truck, much less the bike. And then later in the evening, with the dehydration and what I assume was a lack of electrolytes, my legs decided to cramp up while sitting on the couch! :yikes

    It was definitely a good ride! :thumb
    #17
  18. Yardstick

    Yardstick Hydrophobic

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    Thanks! This is the kind of stuff I like to ride! :D


    :lol3 At one break point, Slowred's SPoT was sitting on the ground. I thought he was signaling the cavalry to come get him. It had just fallen out of his pack. :doh


    I have been through Cement Creek on a 2008 KTM 300, 2004 KTM 625 SXC and now the 2010 KTM 530 EXC. The 530 is by FAR the easiest to ride. I would pick the 625 before the 300 2-stroke. I just do not get along with 2-strokes anymore. Thanks for reading! :thumb
    #18
  19. Slowred

    Slowred Been here awhile

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    Yardstick's wonderful wife sent a care package for the Sycamore Death March
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    The weapon of choice, MT43 Trials [​IMG]
    Yardstick scouting the trail to Cement Creek[​IMG]
    Once in the creek we had a multitude of narrow chutes challenges[​IMG]
    Some we an 11 on a 10 scale . Luckily we were able to bypass this one!![​IMG]
    #19
  20. av_mech

    av_mech Risk Taker

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    That looks like sooooo much fun! Why are they closing that amazing area? Are the hippies turning it into a wilderness area so that nobody will ever see it again for the rest of time? Cause who the hell would hike there when it gets hot?


    Great great riding guys. That's the kinda stuff I love.
    #20