Salsa was launching a new bike, the Redpoint. The plan was to find some aggressive terrain for a 3 day bikepack. Tucson wasn’t the first choice, so Eszter and I were enlisted somewhat late in the game.
The challenge was to come up with a route that would showcase what Arizona has to offer, push some limits, but not kill anyone, either. Easier said than done.
The obvious choice was “the Gila.” While I’m not a huge fan of ‘guiding’ people, this little corner of the world is pretty near and dear to me. It’s still relatively unknown, so I really enjoy seeing people’s reaction to it, on first brush. With Scamp-depature from AZ imminent, I couldn’t pass up a chance to spend more time out there.
It’s a bit of a project to get seven people locked and loaded. We left the Scamp in a yard in Tucson, hoping everything would be undisturbed when we returned.
As they always do, once on the bike, cares melt away.
We moved deeper into the inner canyon. The place.
Had to check in on our buddy, Thumbs Up Cactus. I’m afraid he’s going to lose his arms, but, so far so good.
Eszter riding, boys walking, part 1.
Down into the box.
team bright colors!
For whatever reason, the crew was overly impressed by our ability to find water in the desert. It was part knowledge of the area, part experience in sniffing out sources that change over time.
Heron on a Saguaro. Not a common sight.
A gaggle of new bikes, getting properly broken in. I love it that Salsa is marketing the Redpoint as a capable bikepacking machine. With 5 or 6 inches of travel, it would normally be considered an ‘all mountain’ or a ‘trail’ bike. To most people a bike well suited to bikepacking is either something with fat (slow) tires or, at least, a hardtail with room to strap on 80 pounds of stuff.
My take, since the beginning, is that if you’re going to bikepack in aggressive terrain (i.e. the mountains) then you should ride a capable and aggressive bike. I think some were scratching their heads as to how the Redpoint could be a bikepacking bike, but I was not one of them.
Since the Gila is our local bikepack, we usually pick and choose our weather windows out there. Put differently, if it’s raining, we just don’t go.
This trip was an exception, of course, planned in advance. We waited out a big storm and watched lightning from a small cave just below 52.
Once the skies cleared, there was still daylight left. I rallied troops for an unloaded Area 52 excursion. Some were tired, myself included, but I had 3 takers.
Anthony nails the keyhole
Area 52 is magic, in my book, but this evening was a little beyond that.
The vultures had the same idea as us, dry out up on Area 52, air it out.
Gilas and rainbows, oh my.
Bighorn sheep, also exploring the sherbet rock mesa.
The waterfall. Time to flip it and find new lines back down to camp.
Exit 52, in the morning.
Eszter riding, boys walking, part 2.
No tour of the Gilas would be complete without climbing Ripsey.
I think everyone’s eyes were opened a little as to what Arizona has to offer, in terms of scenery, solitude and enjoyable MTB terrain. The launch went off without a hitch. Luckily everyone in the crew was a solid rider, even though a couple had not bikepacked before. So really, our job was easy. The terrain, the canyons of the Gila, the chunk, all spoke for itself.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the new bike, and agreed that it was well suited to the terrain. Within a few months, Eszter and I would both own one. And it would become the one and only bike we started carrying with us on the road.