Saturday, November 4, 2023

AZT Highline

    After seeing some ride reports of the highline trail up in Payson I have had it in my mind to make it up there sometime to ride it. Since I absolutely love that area and already knew how good it was I was ever to ride a nice simple brainer 20 mile section. From some ride maps it was common for people to run it as a loop with gravel road for a return. So I had a Thursday freed up and me and the bike went up to Pine! When I awoke this morning I was not feeling well, I felt congetion, body aches and not well. But with the whole day cleared for me I was not stopping, so the ibuprofen went in and up I went. The drive is an absolute pleasure and I was on the trail in under two hours from my house.
    The trail began at the pine trailhead and it got off to a very very nice start on smooth narrow trail. It was a good climb for a bit, nothing dramatic but I would call it comfortable. The trail then leveled out and views off the trail were stunning! The trail was way better than I expected, flowy with ups and downs. The terrain was mixed with Sedona vibes too, so yeah this was even better than expected. I was cooking good time and despite feeling like absolute trash I was focused on the task at hand and enjoying it and trying to ignore the symptoms as much I could. Did I say how nice it was to be there! It looks like some sort of fall happened, the woods were a strange mix of lush ravines and few red maples and lots of pine, the ground was obviously severely parched. The miles clicked on and by mile 15 I was really worrying what the ride back was going to be like, the plan was to loop it but I kinda thought about why would I ride dirt roads instead of this awesomeness back. I think I decided on the road since I was tired and thought it would be easier as my symptoms got worse to scary, I now had full flu like symptoms. If I did it again I would definitely ride it out and back. 
    The miles were coming slower by mile 18, I was almost at my turn around point and was still being blessed by spectacular landscape. I did eventually hit the road at mile 21 and then I would descend and ascend never ending boring roads with very light vehicle traffic for the next 14 miles. It sucked as much as I thought it would, next time out and back! 
    Once I hit the pavement section I was stoked after climbing never ending gravel roads I could see the finish line on a 30mph downhill pavemnt ride for a mile and hit my goal of under 4 hours for the 36 mile trek. This was so great and one of my all time favorites!


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