I had to go to Phoenix, AZ this month for a work conference. The original plan was for my hubs to drive down the van, bikes, and dog – and meet me afterwards, 2-hrs north in Sedona for an epic 2-week van-cation of trail shredding. A week before I left, he separated his shoulder and broke four ribs. Bummer. How can I still make this happen…at least sort of? Being solo without the van or camping stuff, Sedona accommodation is stupid expensive. So, knowing that one of my favorite peeps to ride with, Carolynn, had lived in Phoenix, is savvy to making things happen low-budget style, and likes to ride the same kind of trails I do, I asked her what I should do.
With her suggestions, and after days of looking and acting all professional, I couldn’t wait to trade out my heels for my Five Tens and start working on my dirt tan.
I Uber’ed myself to the airport, rented the cheapest car, hunted down the best rental bike I could – a Santa Cruz Bronson, then stuffed that thing into my Hyundai. I then checked into my $50 shared AirBnB near South Mountain Park in Phoenix – with a deaf couple and a psycho cat that scared the crap out of me; certain it was going to suck out my soul while I was sleeping.
Day 1: South Mountain Park, Phoenix – Up Mormon and National Trails, Down National Trail
This ride came highly recommended and it did not disappoint. Massive saguaros everywhere, trails were techy but not ridiculous, good use of gravity, lots of fun-sized drops, and overall just a really good time. Yes, it was 95 degrees and zero shade, but honestly the trail was so fun that I kind of forgot about the heat – and 70 ounces of water certainly helped. I really liked this ride because – although I love my home trails – too much fast and smooth descending leaves you wanting rocky and more technical, and that’s what I got.
Day 2: Sedona
So much hype about Sedona riding, I just had to check it out – even for only one day and 4-hrs RT of driving. Ok, so I accidentally did the suggested ride backwards which I didn’t realize until I got deep into it, to a trail called “Highline”. When scrambling to get my body and my bike UP the steep and loose my mistake became undeniable and sucky. But other than that idiot-move, all the other stuff I rode was pretty fun; some more so than others, for sure. This was mainly because, depending on the trail, there are a lot of people here (the vortexes bring the masses). Also, many trails don’t have much vert to them and there are a lot of punchy-techy ups that give me mini-tantrums, and throw in that an advanced trail rating probably means lots of cliff exposure rather than a challenging descent and umm… it’s just different. BUT…The beauty here is undeniable, so amazing. I would really like to spend more time here because I know I only scratched the surface of Sedona’s huge trail network.
Day 3: Hawes Trails in Mesa
After baking on the South Mountain Park trails, I was super excited that there was cloud cover – Arizona powder day, WOOT! As for the trails, honestly, I was expecting super mellow and mostly uninteresting XC trails – but I was really surprised how fun this trail network was. I originally tried to follow a suggested ride, but so few trail intersections were marked that I gave up and just rode. The trail network is mostly contained and being that there are no trees, it’s easy to keep your bearings. But what it lacks in trees, it makes up for in cactus. As cool as they look, they hurt real, real bad – even the slightest brush made me yell obscenities and squeamishly pluck needles from my skin. Thankfully, the playfulness of the trails and good use of features kept me entertained. I enjoyed ripping around the desert singletrack before having to return the bike, the car with tire marks and grease decorating the interior (hoping that no one notices), and fly home.
Overall? Fun, an adventure, and glad I made it happen.