Zen On Dirt

AZT Memory Lane


With the Baja 1000 finally over, at least the time critical parts of it, Scott was ready to ride. Being a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I was also ready to ride (as I am on most beautiful Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons as well). We contemplated riding from the door, but decided that we can do that any day of the week, but we didn’t have time to drive anywhere far. We wanted to avoid the weekend heavy-use areas like Lemmon and Reddington. After my last encounter with rocks, I think Scott wanted to avoid taking me on anything that could lead to another complete melt-down.

‘Let’s go ride the stuff north of Colossal Caves,’ I suggested. While I’d ridden some of the stuff leading up to Colossal Caves in the daylight during a scouting trip last spring, the only time I’d ridden the trail north of it was during the AZTR, and it was fun, but it was the middle of the night. And generally speaking, a trail that’s fun to ride blind at night is sure to be a good time during the day.

It’s funny how many memories the AZT holds for me, even with my very few traversals of it.

We parked the car just south of the giant train bridge and the trip down memory lane began immediately.


‘This is where I passed Moobs and Boatman peeing on the side of the trail. This is where Moobs passed me back.’


We got to a rock that I’d looked at and said, ‘No way, no how’ when I rode the trail with Jj and JenJ last spring. ‘I think it’ll go.’ And to my surprise, it did, easily. It’s funny how perspectives change over time.


Photo from Scott.

We passed the turnoff to Colossal Cave and delved into new visual territory for me. At the La Sevilla campground, I marveled at how short the trail seemed when I wasn’t in a hurry and could see where I was going.


‘Here’s the faucet that Moobs and I spent an eternity looking for!’


We continued on and I accused Scott of not warning me last April of the rocky sections that immediately followed the campground. ‘You said that it was all easy miles after La Sevilla! It’s not!’

‘I did too warn you. I laid out the trail when it was being built and I made it go over every rocky section that I could.’

‘Well, maybe I wasn’t listening.’

Turns out, I had every reason to balk at the rocks in the dark. Most of them took several tries to get over in broad daylight with an unloaded bike. Sometimes, when you’ve smacked your pedal for the umpteenth time, you wonder what the trail designer was thinking. Then it rolls smooth, and you realize the sheer genius of it.

After several miles of the swoopy trail that I remembered riding with Moobs and Boatman in tow, the moon high in the sky, the darkness warm and inviting, three sets of lights lighting up the hundreds of cactus, it was time to turn around.

All but one of the rocks went in reverse. What was that trail designer thinking again?


Sooo close. Sooo awkward. Photo from Scott.

We stopped at the Colossal Cave ranch to see Hagan the cat. Scott claims to have a picture of her from 2005, I have several from last spring during the Jj and JenJ ice cream ride. She’s still queen of the ranch.


Scott had some ice cream. I had a Larabar. I have absolutely no issues eating clean when off the bike…but man oh man, do I miss mid-ride ice cream breaks.


We climbed back up the hill, stopping to let me session a rock that I’d said ‘never’ to last spring. Seven tries later, I was up and moving on in life.


Photo from Scott.

And then the sky exploded.


I’ve never been much of an evening rider…but the sunsets here make it worth having to carry a light on every ride I go on.


It was one of those special rides, the perfect mix of playing on rocks, smooth trail, and fantastic memories, new and old. And I actually rode over some cool rocks…which was pretty neat-o.


2 thoughts on “AZT Memory Lane

  1. I love that section of the AZT. Seven years ago when I first went to Tucson to spend time exploring, Colossal Cave is where I landed. At a friend’s recommendation I went straight there from I-10 when I first hit town from the east. I camped in the park for near two weeks. Met Mark Flint one day on the trail got invited to a trail work day. Helped build the section of trail from the Ranch south to that little pass out of the basin. The rocks are fun, but I don’t get tired of the slalom course out there on the open stretch toward Rincon Wash.

    AZ is calling to me…

  2. Wow, you make Arizona look so enticing, and I strongly dislike chunky rocks as a riding surface. But it’s fun to follow your recent shift in focus — it’s always rewarding to go back to being a relative beginner at something, isn’t it?

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