Back in the day, evening would come and dawn would go and one could rely on the timing of those and the seasons for guidance of what and how. For the fortunes of today, Dawn and Dusk and seasons take a back seat to priorities like money, which is to say that uncertainty, thus sedatives and stimulants persist throughout society as we attempt to self-regulate the MANifestations of this great progress. By Monday night, and after a moment of reverence for concluding Alan Watts’ The Wisdom of Insecurity, a need for applicable wisdom regarding Dawn and Dusk and the seasons needed to be observed, so I went for a very big dumb ride.
For the Sonoran savvy, Bartlett Reservoir was the gateway to the uncharted, although in close contention, Four Peaks loomed. Bartlett won out for historical purposes since over the past 15 years of wondering what was down that Horseshoe Reservoir road, I had never seen past the turnoff, much less made it out to Sheep bridge which is beyond Horseshoe. A vector towards those curiosities simply wasn’t acceptable in those times of training regimen and duty to winning. This want or wonder creeps back to a point during which Snake Hawk and self may, or may not have said “hey” before borrowing Yard Sale’s Toyota Van to get the burritos. This again, was during the insalata days of Domenic’s Cycling. Also, this route would provide time in Bloody Basin which, at this point, is a fetish I may have my ashes set to in time. I digress.
I’d finally make my way to the end of the pavement that lead to Horseshoe on Tuesday morning after a few stops at local shops in the Valley for the audacity, humor and privilege of it; Joe, at Sunday Cycles I must thank for the Tequila (thank you Joe). Enroute, Flat Tire Bike Shop in Cave Creek I stepped into for the strange that is Cosmo Kaolin Cummens. That would be the end of socializing until Rock Springs Cafe.
Regarding Horseshoe reservoir, I can say I’m happy I never pedaled my road bike down that way during the “winning years”, never mind my want for strange times in lycra. The drop into the valley where Horseshoe resides is big. It’s nothing to fuck with on 25’s, and it is desolate in no time. My mind’s eye of what the Sonoran desert might have been like before the influx of (shit assed) people was realized in mere miles, with only a meager resemblance of said civilization on my left.
Horseshoe reservoir damn is mega. I’ve wondered of riding across its spillway rampart for years ever since google earth shown the possibility to me. As I went, I walked with bike in hand. It was an alien transition from one world to another. The sense of impending unknown grabbed hold that much more as if it was the last major component of modern civilization I’d acknowledge. The damn(!) is much bigger than needed, per Army Corps protocol and global weirding having its way I suppose. The lack of water on the other side rivals any competent apocalyptic scene.
Beyond Horseshoe, everything was taken in at tour pace. I had arrived at my destination which was, essentailly, anywhere after the rampart; removed as I’d ever get from the confines of Phoenix on a two day from-the-door tour. I was happy. My thoughts began to fractal out over the ideas of life; my kid, his mom, the wtf of what I’m doing with my own life, do I really like this bike the best… and so on. The endless precession of an unattainable perfection. It was good, because in time, if the riding is doing its job, it all finally stops and I am there in zen. Upon arriving at Sheep Bridge, I would have my late day moment of down time and water filtering before ascending to some perch for the night. It was everything I anticipated. Sheep Bridge, a well maintained relic from early ranching in the territory. This is where I needed my fishing pole.
The facts of the matter were not recorded properly. The GPS console was faulty for sectors one and three. Sector two – which is arguably the king stage – survived in tact. Its record exists on Strava for reference. As dusk set, I scaled the southern rim of Bloody Basin from Sheep Bridge. At a point on a pitch of that jeep road climb, I saw the rattler SLOWLY crossing the road in full slow motion slither, and no matter how slow they may be, there is always a deathly shiver the crosses me when they show. But, he was not concerned with me. He was struggling with cold blooded dependency. He was running late, and so was I. By his jest, I knew it was time to camp. I found my own perch, and blew up my sleeping pad only to have it deflate by the end of the poem I was crafting for the moment. I’d jostle between rocks and scapula and hip bones all night, glancing up every time to not the movement of the Milky Way. Morning arrived so soon and with its notice, the coffee began to brew.
During this expedition, I’d been cutting away at my bibs for the entirety in experimentation. First, the leg grips camp off which was initially a delight. From then, the sides were sliced, and the bib belly was slashed, and so on. How could I make this negligé, negligé of sporting capability, yet invisible to the senses under shorts? How much stretchy pants bullshit could I remove, because as I refine my tact, I am ever reluctance to embrace the mamil set as it has come to be. By the end, I simply took them off and road the saddle just the same. No images of this were observed.
I would crest Bloody Basin during sector two during a curiously long ascent that meandered through the mid levels of the southern rim. It was new to me, to a point. I’d seen and traveled the northern regions of the basin. The South? It was simply the same volcanic history as anything Arizonan. It was hell and quite beautiful just the same. The lack of images for this was validation of the requisite suffering, as I saw much beauty but no moments in which to capture it. Hours would pass. Each time I want to say it is a MEGA experience, but therein lies the potential fetish issue because, by the looks of the assimilated data of sector two it might be more of a not-mega thing and simply a YP.
Along with lycra, I also have contempt for data collection as well, because while I am socially compelled to play along, nothing of these excursions is measurable beyond the soul. After a full hour of hooking up video, image capture, riding rate gnar meter, sphincter clench, chamois temp probe, GPS, and solar power pack, in the end, all that shit fails to capture what it is. What is this need, anyway, to always be winning with oneself – look at me, look at me, look at how I write this now… – and never knowing the nothing of the here and now? Again, this regards the issue where the world is lacking its Dawn and Dusk. Deep. I know. Whatever. It was all nothing to whimp about and nothing to note if observance of either point is… observed? The next position of relevance would be Cordes Station, 7 hours away from the delicious coffee of that early Dawn (Thanks again, Joe).
Cordes Station is the OG baller that Cordes Junction wishes it was. RIght? Right. It’s another place I’d been years before in the making of the moment I write about now. All that bullshit I’d just dealt with, and now Cordes Station was a mirror of the situation, which is to say stark and concluding.
The top of Black Canyon Trail was there near Cordes Station. The alternate route was dirt road to Cleator. The BCT was purpose made singletrack, but with Cleator having its superior beer supply, the way to it was glanced at more than twice.
About Cleator: Cleator is a place that is worth the stop if you’ve ventured so far as to be aware of it. In moments of my cycling life, Cleator has been a destination for those of us who learned by waxing disregard of cycling’s upsmanship scheme. A bike is a bike. Cleator meant to us, go for a long ride on a dirt road for a beer. Bring a spare tube, and fuck off. I attended a beer there a few times, and I’d like to say I attended once again, but that was not the scheme. I had no reliance. I was solo and no codependence was talking, the more direct route – or so I thought – was BCT.
I began the descent of the BCT on a track that was so faded from the summer months of monsoon, that at first I wasn’t sure if the trail marker was in the right plac. It was in appalling shape given that dreams of it’s luge like side cut makes it a highly regarded riding destination. Yet, it had been a few months since any tires had treaded its route and in that neglect, there is now worked needed, for the greater good of enthusiasts. Still, it was doable. At the bottom of antelope hill (or whatever), I would stop for a second water filter of the tour, at that lush stink assed cattle tank and coral. I thought again of the beer in Cleator as I pumped the mank from the trough. I was entering the realm of agony. The cat claw, the spines, the sun and all that beat down of the previous 120 miles I asked for was having its way. The catclaw and the trail chunder didn’t let up as I continued down the BCT.
By the time the roads to the Pie of Rock Springs Cafe came into view, the cash was in. I was done exactly at the convergence of the trail with the road where the trail turned from fine cut to slabbed rock hackery. Exit, stage left. The Sun was setting. I’d mow down a burger at the Cafe, air up the tires, get lost in a few more washes before the fake roads of Anthem drifted me towards a headwinded home stretch. I was out past my bed time now. I would find a quick nap in a park along side the 51 at some point. Head hung below shoulders, I limped across Dreamy Draw, and tuned down the canal to home. I arrived back at my door some 250 miles deeper into knowing nothing but having at least once, gone to sleep by dusk, and arisen by dawn. Between those two moments, what I saw and wondered about made the substance of my practicle application of Wisdom for these troubled times.