• Alain

Skull Valley


May 6th, we're all 'recovered' from Chino last Saturday. On Sunday, we explored some trails in the Prescott National Forest. That whole area is insane. It's got the coolest flora, including this cactii and these weird combination of aloe and giant asparagus looking plants.

On top of that, there is a spaghetti nest of MTB trails which we'll have to come back to explore one year....maybe race the #Whiskey50. We also scouted the roads for today. We took the Mitsubishi Outlander up the mountain roads to see what we were going to be tackling


Prescott National Forest

Slight change of plans though, we're going to ride from our house rather than drive to Thumb Butte. The ride out has us slogging against a south headwind, which we've discovered, always increases in intensity as the day progresses. It's a tad nippy this morning....the app says 8C but my arms tell me it's more. I'm not sure which is right but I go with my calibrated skin, it's telling me it's short sleeve weather. I throw on a new kit Jakroo designed for my wife....it's loud. I like it. Funny enough, Siavash dawns a pink one too...#twinning


We head south out of Williamsville and turn down Iron Springs road. This paved road is amazing, has amazing views and features a 10 foot wide shoulder. After we've climbed a few hundred meters up it, it heads down, and down and down.


For the pavement enthusiast, Prescott has something for everybody

Iron Springs Road takes us 20 km's away down to Skull Valley. It sounds ominous, and it kind of looks it too. It's basically an intersection, a train track, a gas station, turned convenience store. It also had a church of course, cows and many cattle guards everywhere....a perfect western movie murder mystery setting. I love it, it's the coolest small town. An interesting thing to note, you get warned to watch out for children when entering the town....I didn't see any...I didn't see any adults either....interesting


Anyways, after a food break, we headed up Copper Basin Road, the featured route of the day. This road will take us back over the mountain range, the way cowboys from the wild wild west used to take (I just made that up but it would make sense). Using Google maps, this road looks epic, and the giant sign at the start of it confirms it


This road takes us up 850 m over 17 km's, which doesn't seem like much but with many sections at 12% where standing on your pedals isn't an option, getting used to 52 rpm cadence quickly becomes a necessity. The climb starts out nice and tame. The cows stare don't even budge. They must be color blind.


The roads are simply carved out of the earth. Essentially, it looks like they were dug down a foot below the earth's crust, and then steam rolled to be packed. I think the steamroller forgot some sections though. At this point, we can barely see the mountain tops peak up from the horizon. We keep rolling. We're just mesmerized.





At this point, we've climbed up a ridge and the road keeps following it. Since leaving the valley, we've lost the shelter provided by the hills, the wind is picking up. We're pretty exposed on our right flank, where the wind is coming from. The bigger mountains are starting to appear. I'm not really looking forward to those right now.



We're finally starting to crest the first climb. To our left, we see where the road descends 100 meters or so. After the descent, the final ascent up the pitchiest part of the climb. We roll down the hill and make a hard right turn.


Right after the turn, we can see part of a tractor trailer that's seen better days. Looks like fell off the cliff to it's rusty grave many years ago. It just rolled down the hill and flipped upside down, there, waiting to be engulfed by nature.

It fianlly begins, the 50 minutes of suffering, and regretting not having my mountain bike. As we make our way up this climb, we see this green shiny object in the distance....WTF man, it's a house, and it's massive.



A bunch of questions come through my head....1. Why would you build a mansion here...unless you like peacefulness and don't need to drive to work. 2. Where is the power coming from...I don't see any power lines, 3. How much money did this person spend on getting materials up here and 4. Who do you buy a mountain side from? All valid questions that don't need answering but are an amusing way of keeping myself distracted as my legs are rebelling and telling me that doing 52 squats per minute is stupid. I follow Jens Voigt's advice...#ShutUpLegs. Some sections are really steep and I'm struggling so I take a 1 minute break. I call it a picture time-out. I snap this one of the road I just climbed. By now, Siavash is somewhere in the distance, probably wondering if I went and joined the tractor trailer.

I continue on for another 2 km's until I finally reach the summit. What a grind. It's really quiet and serene up here. Other than Siavash clearing his throat, all you can hear are birds chirping and the wind blowing.


Finally, the hard part of the ride is over. The downhill is way too fast and sketchy to pull the camera out. It is however very smooth. We zipped down the mountain and headed to Prescott where we found this really cool restaurant Ms' Naturals. Definitely recommend it if you're looking for some Veggy/Vegan or not options.


This ride was a Riding Gravel type of ride

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