I have been a poor "blogger" this summer, so here is a much overdue write-up of a little trip I took to Arizona in April.
Towards the end of winter Zach and I brainstormed some potential adventures for the spring "Off Season." We came up with several ideas.
Plan A would take us to ski in a remote area in British Columbia. We applied for a grant... denied. Turns out the area that we chose has seen skiers and the grant was aimed at ski exploration of areas that have not seen ski tracks. Oh well, back to the drawing board!
Plan B: Arizona Trail. I have been wanting to tackle this one after falling in love with the Colorado Trail. The scary part for me is that it is an alien environment.... that is hot and without water. Quite the opposite of the Colorado Trail. I felt ill-prepared and not in bike shape coming straight from skiing, so bailed on that.
Plan C: The Coconino Loop was recommended to me by the bike-packer mastermind himself- Scott Morris. This loop is less committing, less desert, and I have heard nothing but good news about it.
While the 250 mile Coconino loop is far less ambitious than than Plan A and B, It would be a great introduction to riding in Arizona. I lugged my SLR in hopes of documenting the adventure for a magazine feature. Here is a peak at our little bikepacking trip.
Tim Kugler and myself us piled into Zach's ancient Subaru in Crested Butte. We plotted a course West.
$5 Large pizzas in Grand Junction...
We did some riding in on the way incFruita, and sampled a little of the slot canyon world...
We woke up somewheres, Arizona.
After sampling some of the delightful singletrack and watering holes of Flagstaff, we decided it was time to start our ride. We got a late start but we were not in a huge rush. Flagstaff sits at 7000 feet, so the riding is similar to Colorado.
A couple of beers down and we were pedaling through darkness towards Sedona.
The next day we dropped off the Mogollon Rim and into the Sedona Realm.
Sedona feels out of this world with redrock and cactus.
The route sampled some of the classic trails of Sedona.
The Lime Kiln connects Sedona with Cottonwood.
After a ripping descent into Cottonwood Zach asked a local where we could get the most amount of food for the least amount of money. La Hacienda it was...
After we bloated our bellies with Mexican food, we started up the 5000 foot climb of mingus mountain under a full moon. We made it about halfway and crashed out for the night. In the morning we finished the climb.
After bumming some needed water from some RV campers, we enjoyed a ripping descent down the backside.
The Verde River was the low point of the route, and a long road climb back up to the rim certainly messed with the mojo of our 'shred' oriented bike-packing crew. The sunset once back up high was amazing.
Campfire on a chilly night now back up high in the pines. Believe it or not, or water bottles froze that night. I guess it can be cold in Arizona.
Sweet singletrack leading back to Flag.
Yep, steiny is running a dropper seatpost on a bikepacking trip. I certainly have unique and entertaining riding friends.
Tim contemplates our last day.
Ripping the last descent on the Arizona Trail. This is a beautiful section of trail that drops right into the heart of the city.
We pedaled straight to the "Green Room" after finishing the loop. We managed to destroy some hoppy beverages, and our bartender proceeded to destroy us in Jenga. The beers and bars of Flagstaff get a two thumbs up from me.
We met a colorful local who joined us for dinner at a friends house just on the outskirts of town.
Zach headed to Tuscon for a wedding, and we made our way back to Colorado. Since we were in Arizona, it seemed like we had to fire guns.
Sometimes an adventures don't have to be putting up a scary ski line or putting in a fast time on a bike route. Mountain bike road trips with a good crew is something that is hard to beat.
The coco was a great way to get back into the mountain bike after the winter. It gave me a taste to get on the Arizona Trail this fall.....