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Bush & Salt Area On-Off Trail Biking, AZ
mini location map2022-09-29
6 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Bush & Salt Area On-Off Trail Biking, AZ 
Bush & Salt Area On-Off Trail Biking, AZ
Mtn Biking22.40 Miles 1,544 AEG
Mtn Biking22.40 Miles   3 Hrs   36 Mns   6.22 mph
1,544 ft AEG10 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Not a great start to the day... the front tire was totally flat.
Yup, I'm sure the goat-heads I encountered the previous ride had something to do with the issue. But then again, the front tire has traveled over 2300 miles, has likely been poked by tens-of-thousands of thorns and has used up a half-dozen bottles of sealer, so I think its time has come.
Thankfully I had a tire just waiting for just this day, and wonder-of-wonders, unlike my three-hour battle to replace the rear tire a few months back, this replacement was almost too easy and I was done with it filled with sealer in less than 15 minutes.

The Ride:
With the relative humidity in the mid 50% range I really didn't feel like a long ride today but with only 81° and a nice breeze I figured I'd keep going and see how it turned out.
Good thing I did, as not only would the humidity quickly drop into my 'pleasant zone' but my ride would turn out to provide quite an adventure.

And for quite the adventure, I suppose I should add an appropriate title:
Wild cats, lively horses and a NOT-so-lively horse

I began just west of the intersection of Bush Highway/Coon Bluff Road, riding west near the fence line along Bush Highway then following old horse trails out to Phon D Sutton Recreation Area, continuing and extended out-and-back on Lower Salt River Interpretive Trail #6, and back to the car along the same route.

As quickly as the humidity had dropped without an increase in temperature (thanks to continuing overcast skies) once back at the car I decided to extend the ride. After a quick stop to swap one of two quart bottles for a still nearly-frozen bottle, and grabbing an extra frozen 17 oz bottle, because by now I had a feeling the ride would go on-and-on-and-on.

A quick sprint down Coon Bluff Road to the equestrian gate and I was riding eastward on the Salt River Trail #100. As usual, out in this area I rarely stick with the trail and meander whenever and wherever something of interest catches my attention.

With so many horse trails out along the Salt River I've likely never ridden the same route more than once so there's always something new, and today would continue in that same vein.

As I approached the Goldfield Recreation Site I realized I should make a quick detour to avoid the wafting odors from the restrooms... WHEW! So a quite shot down the ramp to the tubing recovery area and continued my ride westward along the tubing service road. This area includes a variety of terrain to ride along... fine river rock, egg-to-avocado-sized smooth river rock, fine sand, even finer silty-sand, rough gravel and back-and-forth.

Just as I was rounding the bend adjacent to the 'Mud Cliffs' across the Salt River I spotted something of great interest up ahead... a large wild cat of some kind! Currently riding on egg-sized rocks was not a quite proposition so I quickly jumped off, grabbed my camera and started walking fast to catch up before it went out-of-sight. As big as it was and how thick the tail was for a split-second I thought "mountain lion" but the ears were not rounded. A moment later I spotted the black ear tufts so I was confident it was a bobcat. But oh man, of the bobcats I'd spotted before in Arizona, this one was BIG! 40+ pounds or more?

I got off two quick photos before realizing the zoom of 'biking camera' was a bit limited so I ran back, got back on my bike and proceeded carefully, camera in one hand and handlebar in the other (not easy on a rocky surface), hoping to get closer without spooking it completely, as so far it seemed oblivious to my presence. And then it stopped... as did I, although I'd made enough noise it turned around and looked directly at me. Wow, what a perfect shot!
But stopping, getting off the bike and focusing the camera took a split-second too long and I MISSED the shot! Although the bobcat nonchalantly continued on its way, it simply would not turn around while I was ready for it.

Back on the bike and just as the bobcat passed some brush it turned off to the side, sat down under a tree and looked directly at me. Knowing the moment would quickly pass I tried to take a photo while still moving but again the camera was too slow and all I got was a blur and a moment later the cat was gone. Oh well, at least a got a few halfway decent photos of it.

Moving along... next I would encounter varying sized groups of Salt River Horses on either side of the track. Having encountered them literally hundreds of times I didn't plan to take any additional photos... until one particularly feisty gray-maned horse started causing a ruckus with almost any horse in the vicinity so of course I had to stop and start filming. For a bit I thought it would be never-ending but eventually cooler heads prevailed and that was the end of it. I missed the start of it but it was enough:
Lively Salt River Horses

Continuing on, I spotted large flock of turkey vultures circling, which made me decided to pay another visit to the remains a dead horse. It had been hit by a car on North Usery Pass Road near the corner on the way out to the Goldfield Recreation Area on Sunday September 18th at around 1:30 AM. As usual on this road, no matter what time of day or night the cars are going WAY too fast, and this one crippled the horse so it was quickly euthanized, and later relocated about 500 feet off the road to allow for 'returning to nature'.
Another reason for that was for safety for the rest of the band of horses it had been a part of as they tend to return to the corpse and, in-a-sense, 'pay their respects' to the dead. Since the band included a young foal, the relocation would help protect future generations.

Although I'd already racked up a dozen miles by now I continued southward completely off-trail and parallel to Usery Pass Road all the way up(hill) to the Maricopa Trail crossing, along Wild Horse Trail, down Stinger East, some more completely off-trail riding over to Bush Highway and back to the car along the fence line east of and parallel to Bush Highway.

Whew! With this long ride I've ridden over 1500 miles for 2022, which has already surpassed my total miles for 2021.
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