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Old 2019-01-27, 04:41 AM   #1
eyal
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Ride Report: National Trail, Phoenix

It's been precisely 103 years since I've posted a ride report, so now seems like as good a time as any. I just finished a kick-ass ride with the Phoenix crew on National Trail, South Mountain.

For starters, let me say these guys are superior hosts. I wasn't very keen on the idea of flying with my unicycle, so I asked around, and received a generous offer from Mark McCann to loan me his rig, plus helmet and camelbak - and Steve Patterson was kind enough to pick it up for me. You never know what you're gonna get in situations like this, riding on someone else's uni, but Mark's setup was a near exact replica of my own, right down to the drilled rim!

From the lower trail head, Steve shuttled all six of us (Steve, Nate, Tomash, Casey, Ken, and myself) up to the drop in - a longish, but luxurious drive with stunning views. Some of you may know National trail from AZ Muni weekend some years ago, but I had forgotten how versatile it is! The entire 5-mile stretch is littered with so many different routes, nearly every section has something for everyone... which was great for me since I'm not at the top of my game.

The overall incline is fairly gentle, so in the rough spots, gravity serves up a helpful assist rather than a super suction. It's possible to do just about every section slow and controlled. But for those who scoff at slow speeds and control, there are ample opportunities to raise the stakes, most notably, the famed "waterfall." The waterfall is basically a collection of boulders integrated into a steep rock bed that jets up into a slopey, angled spine. The spine gets narrower and narrower as it guides you down toward a wheel-sized, temporary landing, where you must quickly collect your wits before tipping down a 3 foot drop finish. It's a series of no-turning-back commitments - a commitment that I've yet to make - but Nate cleaned it like a walk in the park, and others also earned their keep.

The crew as a whole represents an impressive set of skills in grit. Tomash reminded me of a quote from a wise old sage, "the mountain makes the man," and that sure seems to apply here. I heard several disclaimers that this one's out of shape, and that one never rides, and yet they all cleaned almost every technical section with minimal attention required. You know you're comfortable on a trail when you're skipping across tomestones that curve around the thorns of a saguaro while deep in conversation about the latest scientific research on criminal psychopaths.

As for me, it was exhilarating to lock in on some shapely technical lines again. By the 5th mile, I found myself in that wonderful paradoxical space where, by sheer exhaustion, you ride better because you're looser, and too tired to second guess yourself. Getting that right dose of tired seems to reduce the inhibitions, allowing you to raise your risk threshold and soften your landings.

Near the bottom, we survived a genuine car-wash of hikers and partook in one of my very favorite traditions: the post-ride lunch. Filiberto's never tasted so good.

All this is to say, thank you, Nate, Steve, and the rest of the crew for hosting a killer ride with premium company. Hope to see you all at next year's AZ Muni Weekend! And please post any pics if you have 'em.

Last edited by eyal; 2019-01-27 at 04:47 AM.
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Old Yesterday, 04:04 AM   #2
unicycle6869
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Old Today, 06:55 AM   #3
johnfoss
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"You know you're comfortable on a trail when you're skipping across tomestones that curve around the thorns of a saguaro while deep in conversation about the latest scientific research on criminal psychopaths."
That's a sig-worthy quote if there ever was one. One of my favorite things about unicycling is getting to meet interesting people who do some really interesting stuff!

Great ride report! I'd love to make it to another AZ Muni Weekend; the one I went to in 2012 was great (not sure if it included the National Trail).
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