A few weeks before our attempt at bikepacking the completed sections of the Maricopa Trail we had an idea. A trial run of gear, grit and glutes. The route was straight forward; ride dirt roads from Bartlett Lake Rd to Sheep's Bridge and spend the night soaking in hot springs. What was suppose to be a easy test run, turned into a slog minutes into the ride.
The route began at the junction of Bartlett Lake Road and Horse Dam Road. After reaching the dam the route would cross to the East side and continue heading upstream. After a leisurely (or so we thought) 25 miles we would arrive at our destination. But as you figured out by now things didn't go as planned.
After finishing up the 2 miles of bullshit pavement we hit the descent on dirt. The image leads you to believe that the road was a fun ride. Everyone had a different setup for this trip, full suspension with a BOB trailer, bikepacking bags, panniers, cross tires, and baskets. None of them were ideal for the sandy conditions we found on this road. The BOB threatened to fishtail me in every sand trap. The weight of the panniers sank the 42mm tires into the ground. And if all that wasn't enough the road traffic came at us fast from both directions.
After the dam, the road conditions deteriorated quickly. Large rocks, sand traps and rutted roads made the riding impossible in parts. Greg and I on our full suspension bikes had the most ideal bikes. The BOB trailer and Greg's oversized backpack made the riding a challenge for us also. Everyone on the road bike type bikes struggled with the steep, loose climbs and descents. All though none were major the road was definitely better suited to motorized travel.
We relaxed beside the lake knowing that we had a challenging ride out the next morning. After some deliberation we decided that most the group would ride to our previous lunch spot, where Greg and I would drop gear. Then we would make our way up the shitty road to the cars where we would pick everyone up.