In preparation for the completion of my long term van project, a friend and I decide to go ride some trails that would break us into the world of jumping on our mountain bikes. Brodie and I meet early, load up the vehicles, and set sail for Sedona. A world class mountain bike destination, just 90 miles north of Phoenix where we both reside throughout the metro area. We gear up, and are on the trail by 8:30 am. We are lucky to have cloud cover, keeping the temperature lower. We do a quick run through to see all the features that we want to session.
Although a short trail, this densely packed loop trail has a great drop on it and several ensuing jumps, making it easy to repeat and continually practice. We pick a line with a drop followed by a double and ride it for about an hour and a half. Within this time, we have some close calls, improved greatly, and had one major digger. The final jump in the line has a pesky tree stump that has been chopped but juts out into the trail just enough to impose its will on your head game that it might just reach out and grab your bike. We are able to avoid the stump, but a sketchy landing sends Brodie face-first into the dirt, grabbing ahold of his shoulder pads with a nice bite from some rocks. With an initial fall at speed logged, we decide to take a break and roll back to the car to refuel and hydrate.
After some chatting, we decide to head to the jump park and really dive into skills training to work on the terrain line and the jump lines. The crowd at the park begins to grow and we have a great mix of downhill and BMX riders all sessioning the jump. It makes for a mixed group of skill levels and facilitates a substantial amount of learning for all. By the afternoon, the sun has escaped the clouds and we really feel the pull of near 30 laps of riding the features. With my girlfriend and dog in tow, we pack up for a respite at Oak Creek Brewery and roll back towards Phoenix to regroup with other riding friends at Humble Pie, our favorite North Phoenix happy hour. Here we grab cheap pints and appetizers, share riding stories from the day, as our friends stayed in Phoenix to ride that day and discuss tomorrow’s plan of attack to return to the majesty of Sedona and pick up where we left off today. Weekend warriors live on!
[divider]Sedona: The West’s Mountain Bike Capital[/divider]
Sedona, Arizona is a magical town, known for its mild weather, Red Rock formations, and vibrant arts community. The real magic is how featured the mountain biking there is. From slick rock features, tight single track, or deathly drops and rock gardens. Sedona has it all for the novice to expert riders.
The bonus for visiting such an epicenter for pedaling is that the town thrives on this sport. Being in the saddle also allows you to cover much more ground, thus experiencing sensory overload when it comes to scenery. Sedona’s colors and variety often have you hitting the breaks just to observe the wild contrast of blue sky to green vegetation to the fiery red sea of rock below. With a knowledgeable community, bikes are welcome on the town’s generous bike lanes, there are plenty of bike racks at local establishments, and of course, bike shops. Roll into Absolute Bikes (928-284-1242) for local beta on trail conditions, recommendations, parking options, or a quick fix on your steed. They carry a wide variety of high-end cycles, so renting for your trip is available as well. Even from the shop, there are tons of trail options. Sedona’s charm may come from the convenience of riding. Biking a trail, catching the road to the next trail, or refueling at a local eatery/brew pub is all within reach. There are loads of trails that offer this quick access to and from the amenities, but there are also several trails that boast larger rewards that require shuttling. Whether you need to rehydrate or want to do a trail worth shuttling for, setting up a shuttle with the shops is all within reach.
For sustenance, you can find bikers at the Oak Creek Brewery or one of the many pizzerias that Sedona has to offer. As a vacation spot, the variety and quality are all here, and with a little searching, you can find exactly what you are looking for. Javelina Cantina is a great spot for a sit-down, post-pedaling Mexican food and margaritas, or for cleaner food options, you can find tons of cyclists stocking up at the Whole Foods right in the heart of Sedona.
As a minimalist, I’ve never considered staying in the area’s resort style vacation housing, but instead, seeking out camping spots. Unfortunately, there is no camping within Sedona City limits, but if you venture the short drive outside of town, Bureau of Land Management public lands are available for free camping. Free is great, but it is easy for public land to get overused or mistreated, so please do us all a favor and review BLM camping regulations before your trip to do your part in maintaining such a privilege. (https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/coconino/recreation/camping-cabins)
If there are people in your party not into pedaling as much as you, Sedona will keep them occupied until you reunite for food and fellowship afterwards. There is fantastic fly fishing, hiking or trail running, and tons of plazas highlighting the areas aura and ambiance. Posse Campground is an area near the local high school that offers bikers a practice area equipped with a flow track, terrain park, and jump line, all with quick return trails to dial them in and practice. This area is very tightly packed so your non-cyclists can catch up with you easily, hike for a vantage to watch the carnage, or even take to the concrete and skate the smooth skate park just up the hill.