First attempt at biking the Mogollon Rim

The bike ride along the Mogollon Rim two weeks ago is just what I needed. We learned a lot about our limits, meal planning, and how fantastic hammocks are after an extremely rough bike ride.

We ran into plenty of speed bumps and plan changes along the way. Originally, we had planned on riding for three days while a single support driver carried some of our gear for our camping spots. Unfortunately, when dealing with other people, major life events, and weather, the plan versus what actually happen aren't always the same. Two of our riders weren't able to actually ride and another non-rider came along for the trip.

We had hoped to ride from Baker Lake to Willow Springs Lake, but during the scouting trip, the roads became rough and were scattered with golfball sized rocks and very loose gravel. Not exactly the best terrain when riding long(ish) distances. So we shortened the ride to Myrtle Point in favor of relaxing and enjoying the spectacular views.

After a few minor scheduling updates, we met at the Long Valley gas station on 87 to do a quick huddle and stretch our legs after our morning drive. We had originally planned to meet up at 8 am, but ended up meeting around 9:30 am. We looked over the map, pointed out our checkpoints and talked about fallback plans in the event that our site was taken, injuries, or no-call no-shows.

We met up at Baker Lake shortly afterward, unloaded bikes, and passed out maps for everyone to follow. At the last minute, my sister(who was supposed to be support driver) decides she wants to ride along until Kehl Springs. Laura is feeling sick so we adjust the bike to fit a little better and get her geared up with a helmet and hydration pack. Robert and I say goodbye to our dogs and wives and kick off our ride with Cait trailing behind at a slower than hoped pace.

This was our view for many legs of the trip. The smell of evergreens and snapdragons was only occasionally overrun by the dust cloud of a passing vehicle.
The precipitation during the week had caused a bit of a mud situation on the 218, which was supposed to be our Baker Butte bypass, and we had to start the ride on a brutal climb for the first 1.5 miles. Given that she hadn't trained for this type of riding and she was not used to the altitude, a majority of my sister's uphills ended up being hike-a-bikes.

Like a good sibling and riding partner, I waited at the top of every hill and cheered my sister on while she pushed her bike up to the apogee of each hill, which she summited with enthusiasm and exhaustion at the same time. I had plenty of time to catch my breath, eat some snacks, and enjoy the quiet moments between descents and flat spots where my sister revelled, remembering times in our childhood where we would ride across trails marked "No Trespassing" and "Private Property" without ever getting caught.

These short times of conversation brought up deep buried memories of living in the poor neighborhoods in Clearwater, Florida, where we would sneak through holes in fences and observe the campsites of those even less fortunate than us. I would find myself in the midst of a transient camp, talking with strangers and learning neat tricks on how to use things like old coffee creamer lids and tin foil as twist ties for garbage-bag backpacks. I both miss and dread those memories of my early teens, when nothing seemed certain and my mind was anxious to learn as much as I could.

Taking a break at the first General Crook trailhead. On our way back, this grassy area would be overrun with more campers and their toy haulers and lifted trucks than was practical for the space provided.

After finally reaching a flat spot on the trail, we stopped to take a few pictures

Cait, after removing her extra layers and cutting the sleeves off her shirt to prevent overheating.

Stopping in the shade to cool off after another hill climb.

Evidence of asshattery. Is it really that hard to pick up your trash?

Apparently, it is because you brought glass out into the forest. Cans are much easier to pack.

Getting a little closer to the rim.

Cait, exhausted after the last climb.

My opinions of the last hill climb before Kehl Springs Campground
After several more summits of the lesser hills to be climbed, we finally made it to Kehl Springs Campground at around the 7-mile mark. We met up with the rest of the group, ate a quick lunch, and had a quick chat about moving quickly to the campsite before it was claimed. Caitlin surrendered her bike to the rack and jumped into one of the support vehicles to rest before setting up camp with the rest of the support group.

Robert and I set off at a much better pace, looking forward to the afternoon of pedaling and spectacular views. Shortly after Kehl, the route took us closer to the rim, when the warm and cool air mixed and provided some exceptionally refreshing breezes. After our first summit, be decided we needed a little assistance from some liquid calories and took a short beer break.

One mile after the campground and already drinking the beer we packed

There were a lot of burned out areas on the ride.

A few of the younger trees making a comeback from a recent fire.

A few more miles of listening to the gravel beneath our tires and the buzzing of our hubs brought us to the death-march of a climb that would hobble us for the rest of the ride. I paused for a few moments to get a shot of the lowest point in our trip; It was all uphill from this point forward. Nearly 10 miles of climbing, broken up by small little victories in the form of small downhills that allowed us to catch our breath and gain some momentum for the next inevitable climb.
Where the AZ Trail intersects Rim Road. One hell of a climb for people coming from the south.
Burnout wouldn't be the right word, but we were close. The remaining 10 miles were demotivating and there were several times I thought about getting off the bike and just walking the remainder of the trip. My rear end was sore from the Brooks saddle that wasn't quite as broken in as my other saddles and my knees were starting to get a pinching sensation underneath the kneecaps. Both signs of not having my bike adjusted correctly. Even with the daily commutes and weekend rides, I was out of shape for these type of climbs. The next ride out here would definitely require a little better training and a softer saddle for the long haul.

Getting closer to Myrtle Point 
Graders were seen parked further up the road this time in comparison to the scouting trip. Maybe they cleaned up the portion of the road that was too messy for a nice bike ride?



Getting closer...
In the last 5 miles, my sister raised me on the walkie talkie I was carrying to let us know they had finished setting up camp where we had hoped to be for the evening. By that time, Robert and I were at our limit. Robert's allergies were flaring up and my knee was not making pedaling easy. At least we were in the home stretch.

Robert giving his opinion on the ride behind me 
Exhausted. Like my bike, the nearest tree was the only thing keeping me upright
Upon arrival, we cracked open a few beers, set up hammocks and rested our sore bodies in camp chairs, hammocks, and tents.

Laura chilling in the hammock after setting up camp. Life must be very hard for her :)

The wind became especially ferocious in the evening and we were forced into our tents early. There were times during dinner where our food, hot out of the pot, was immediately cold aftÆ’er hitting the plate. Even standing downwind from our campfire couldn't keep us warm enough to stay outside. The next morning we relocated to a spot north of Kehl Springs on the 308. The rest of the weekend was uneventful while we recovered from our ride along the rim and planned for a retry with an easier pace and less planning and environmental SANFUs.

We'll be doing another attempt later in the year with some better stopping points for resting/stretching and as an unsupported ride.

Planned Route:

Strava activity:

Flyover our ride can be found here:

Additional support provided by All Is Radness by contributing funding for some bikepacking bags and getting our family a reliable bike rack.

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