Monday, February 22, 2010

Cactus Encounters: A week of singletrack in sunshine, February 13-21, 2010

Our annual backcountry trip turned into an adventure on two wheels down in Arizona. Friday after work on the 12th, Tim and I rushed to the airport in search of sunshine and 75 instead of fresh powder. We found what we were looking for in Fountain Hills and Sedona. 7 days of amazing riding, miles of awesome dry singletrack, hours and hours of sunshine, and one rainy day to get us ready to come home. Here is our adventure in pictures.

Day 1: Bell & Windy pass loop. 4 hours, 4100 feet of climbing and lots of smiles

Tim's new toy. The inaugural ride.

A different kind of riding than Oregon.

At the top of Windy pass, heading down for the last descent.

Day 2: An actual "training day". Valentine's day intervals. We headed over to the McDowell track from the backside. My first intervals out of the way for the season and they were actually fun. I love chasing Tim around!

Not a bit of mud in sight.

Nice new bike!

Day 3: Sunday night after our ride, we headed to Sedona to hook up with Kelly Benjamin (Pdx buddy), Ben Sonntag (teammate), his girlfriend Carmen Small and her dad. Starting the week out in a new place and lot's of singletrack! The ride Monday with Kelly & Ben left us all grinning ear to ear. Kelly is an amazing mountain biker. Not your typical 'roadie'. The views, the weather. It was amazing. We rode over 5 hours that day. We didn't want to stop.

Is life really this good?

Love the rock.

Not even streams could stop us. Although we didn't get across dry.


Fun riding.

Happiness is...

Our least favorite trail: Ridge.
We went up instead of down and the cactus were on full attack mode.

Tim on our bonus loop in Carol Canyon.

Day 4/Sedona day 2: Maps do lie. Or snow makes finding trails impossible. At any rate, Kelly wanted to go up Schnebly Hill Road. She had never done it. There was a singletrack right next to it, so we were game. The map showed a way for us to loop it. It was going to be epic. Oh, it was. 5.5 hours of epic. And only 22 miles. You do the math.
It started amazingly well. A really fun uphill trail.

Beautiful views.

Stream crossings you could ride.

Beautiful rock.

And then we hit snow. But it didn't stop us... yet.

At the point we thought was the end of the snow.

All smiles at the top, thinking of our fun descent.

The search for the trail continued, mostly on foot. This was the snow we ran/pushed our bikes through on the way up. And it turns out, on the way down too. That trail on the map was never found. And afterwards we did find out that it was a good thing. At least on xc bikes. Apparently it is a burly downhill, full pads kind of trail. And it was under snow.

Day 5: Rest day in Sedona. Kelly had to leave, we went out for breakfast and just hung out all day. It was hard not to ride, knowing there were more epic trails, but sometimes you just need a break. And it wasn't so bad hanging out with the views from the house.

Day 6/ Sedona riding day #3: We redeemed ourselves from the Schnebly Hill adventure and covered another 30+ miles of singletrack in the area. A totally different area, different trails and soil. It was a true adventure that began well and ended well.

Day 7: After our last ride in Sedona, we reluctantly packed up and headed back to Phoenix. What dumb luck that Kelly was in AZ and that her family had this amazing house in Sedona. We definitely got bonus days up there and we will be back. On Friday, we had another "training day" that was structured. So, we actually drove over to McDowell to ride that entire area, inside and outside of the 'competitive track'. We covered a lot of ground. Almost 40 miles in 3.5 hours. It was actually quite fun. But isn't riding your bike fast on singletrack always fun?

Tim aka "T-bone" in his earlier years has both a ridge...

...and a wash.

The "moonscape" in the outskirts of McDowell Park.

Day 8: Is this a cruel joke? It was 60 and sunny in Portland and 50 and rainy in Arizona. I guess the sun gods wanted to give the folks at home a little break. And it prepared us of our inevitable fate of riding in the rain again when we went home. We hadn't really brought rain gear, but did bring some warmer clothes for Sedona, just in case. It wasn't so bad. We did get muddy, but we kept smiling. And enjoyed our last miles of singletrack in Arizona sopping wet! Felt like home.

Rain? No problem. I had wool packed "just in case."

At the top of the first pass we climbed too. See our trail in the background. Fun, fun.

Tim loves when the clouds are hanging in the mountains.

Day 9: No time to ride. Just a morning of packing and heading out. Thanks to Paul Gundlach, our favorite resident snowbird in Arizona. He is a marvelous host and we look forward to returning the favor when he returns to Oregon for the summer.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I am so jealous of your life. Won't you consider adopting me? I am housebroken, can do my own laundry, cook, clean, and have had jobs in the past.

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travis said...

You are riding in my old stomping grounds. I had lots of run ins with cactus when I used to ride around South Mountain Park, and the McDowell Mountains. Those were the days. Hope you guys are doing well. Look forward to seeing you in TX in May!