Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My New Secret Playground

I feel like I just discovered a secret treasure chest buried beneath my house. Or at the very least was just handed a free gym membership. You may wonder what amazing thing Hannah is babbling about this time. Try a secret undiscovered bike trail in my back yard that goes for miles. I was 12 miles along nearing full blown dark before I could persuade myself that I needed to turn around and head back. And I had not seen a single person since the first mile of the trail. You may ask how is it possible to find a trail like this in a huge city riding distance from my house? Well ladies and gents, it's called the 'rez'.

My Turnaround Point Biking on the Ak Chin Reservation

Phoenix, like all of Arizona is surrounded by and encompasses Native American reservation land. The land that lies a half a mile south of my house is the Ak Chin Indian Reservation, and services two small casinos and not much else. To many, it seems like a desert wasteland with no roads, little desert vegetation, and not much to offer. It is mostly fenced off with no access to it. I have always appreciated it though since I feel it is such an effective damper on urban sprawl and traffic near my house. Suburbia has since sprung up on the other side of it, but who cares, I can't see it. Well as most non road bikers know, land that may be considered ugly and useless for hiking, running, or picnicking, can be biking paradise. I have been exploring the area around my house to find non busy road conditions and in doing this, I have found some unknown semi deserted roads down into the 'rez' leading to the casinos. I haven't spent a ton of time down there because I find it creepy, but then yesterday the road I was on turned into a dirt canal path which lead to a tunnel under the highway. Curious where it went, I road through and it came out on a dirt path leading into the wild desert part of the reservation. I started peddling expecting it to end into sand or a cactus grove or something equally unrideable. It didn't end. I pedaled for miles through nice double track lined with cactus veering around and over small hills and mountains. It headed back towards a large range of mountains known as Estrallas that aren't very popular due to having no real roads leading to them. They are also considered too jagged to be very hikeable/bikeable. I passed some very weird Native American shrines to some unknown deities (see side pic) as well as lot of random junk found here or there. Eventually it led into some more technical loose climbs with downhills that my amateur skills were afraid to try. I finally turned around at dark and had to make my back in the dark. My overall stats according to my bike computer were 23.3 miles in 2:15 with an average heart rate of 170. Pretty good considering I crossed one real road the entire time and hit zero stop lights. I will definitely be back to my new playground. I think I could log at least 25 miles in one direction on this trail before hitting the mountains. But shhh, it may not be completely legal...

The Estrella mountains are seen in the background. This picture taken 10 miles in and it seems that the trail will go all the way to them. Who knows how far that would be...I think I shall try to find out some weekend.

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