|Hitting the open trail|
|The route begins with nice singletrack through the open prairie landscape that I had only seen previously from interstate 17.|
|I met two guys doing a one-day trip down the trail while taking a break at this windmill. I decided not to filter the cow-water and instead wait for a better source.|
|They soon left me in the dust; I'm not a very fast rider.|
|I think I'm headed down...|
|Sweet, smooth singletrack dropping into Black Canyon.|
|Bumble Bee Ranch. You can see cottonwoods next to the ranch; that's Bumble Bee creek, where I filtered water for the rest of the ride.|
|ACE friends note: this trail is built on a LOT of junk walls. They seem to be holding up just fine.|
|More sublime saguaro singletrack.|
|The ride ended with an Agua Fria river crossing, complete with some bike-bushwacking along the bank to find the best spot.|
I started where the trail crosses Highway 69, and finished at the Rock Springs trailhead in Black Canyon City. 40 miles in 2 days isn't a lot of distance for a mountain bike, but I was pretty knackered. The biggest limiting factor was a sore neck and thumbs (oddly enough). I attribute both of these to having not mountain biked in the last 3 years; this is one of the first rides I've taken on the new bike. The panniers held up well, but I did lose a couple of straps from forgetting to tighten them up; my attachment method uses slider lock buckles and relies on tension to keep from unraveling. I may look for a new method, or simply back up with tape next time.
Also, while I definitely like the panniers and will do more trips with them, for 1-2 night trips my framebag should be sufficient space. And I need to make a small bag that sits in front of me while biking, for snacks and stuff. It sounds kind of ridiculous, but digging into the panniers or a pack for a snickers is too tedious, and I don't eat as often as I should when food's not right in front of me.
All things considered, a wonderful ride. Bikepacking is *so* much more fun than touring on a road. Riding singletrack, knowing that you can stop and set up camp any time, it's pretty cool. It combines everything I like about backpacking and mountain biking.