A Check for the Bucket List

I recently took advantage of a work related trip that took me to Phoenix AZ.  With a baby girl on the way that’s due in a few weeks, I’ve been trying to cram in as much new riding as possible.  Having visited AZ in the past without my bike, I knew there was some amazing riding to do.  The plan was to ride around the Phoenix area during the week and then spend a few days in Sedona when business was finished.

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above: We only had a vehicle with a roof rack for the drive out there.  Since I knew we’d be encountering all sorts of airborn debris on I-5, I decided to get out my trusty old bike bra for the drive.  It was designed to be used with a fork mounted setup, but I made it work for my application.

below: For the Phoenix area riding, we decided to check out the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  The riding was challenging and was close to town, so we ended up riding here both of our days in Phoenix.  Most of the pictures below are of the Sunrise trail.

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above: The climb to the top was steady once you got a ways out from the trail head.

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above: A larger than life size cactus at the top of the climb.  We looked, but we didn’t find any perfectly shaped ones, like the kind you’d see in cartoons.

below: Once you get to the top, you can drop down the backside our turn around and head back to the car.  If you drop down the backside, you’ll add a bit more climbing to your ride. Even in the “cooler” temps of April, we found our Camelbaks to be empty near the end of a 2 hour ride, so we only ventured down the back on one day.

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above: These stairs were the cause of a 45 minute delay after a piece of exposed re-bar shredded his rear tire just moments after this photo was taken.  It was to gnarly for the Revo tire sealant to fill.  I wonder if OrangeSeal would have done the trick?  We’ll know next time!

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After work was done in Phoenix, we head up to Sedona the very next morning to try and catch half a day of riding.  We decided to start off with Chuckwagon – Deadman’s Pass – Mescal.  It was a great introduction to the area and offered some great views with several nice flowy sections.

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above: Any direction you pointed the camera would have shown something like this.  The red rock was every where.

below: Chuckwagon trail opened up into giant red rock playgrounds along the 4 mile loop.  We stopped and played around for a bit on the one below but didn’t stay for long since we were racing daylight.

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below: Mescal trail is one of the most unique trails I have ever ridden.  The section below featured a upper and lower route around the inside of a red rock bowl directly below Mescal Mountain.  Unfortunately my cropped-sensored-DSLR sporting a 24mm fixed lens couldn’t capture the impressiveness.  The rider in the picture below is nearly finished circling the bowl.  Do you see him in the distance?

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below: This cactus let me know I was too close as I squatted on top of it to get the shot. Thank goodness for padded bike shorts.  Unlike my parking lot accident in Phoenix that caused me to scratch my stanchions and pull around 20 needles out of my elbow, this guy took it easy on me and didn’t leave me with any needles in my ass.

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below: A few shots from Hiline to Cathedral Rock.  Hiline had some incredible views but didn’t have as much flow as we hoped for.

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below: Here are a couple of panoramic pictures courtesy of Photoshop’s photomerge action. At times, it was very difficult to keep your eyes on the trail ahead of you with views like these!

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below: Hiline rock-chute

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below: There were lots of rock-chute playgrounds intersecting the trail that you could ride down.  They would take you as far down as you wanted to go!  The one below had a few nice drops in it.

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below: Famous Pizza and Beer served up some killer pizza and offered a small but impressive tap and bottle list.  Highly recommended!  We ate here for lunch after riding Hiline.  Afterwards, we hit up Deadman’s Pass to Mescal one more time.

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below: This was my first but hopefully not my last ride in Sedona. If you are after one of the most unique experiences you can have on a mountain bike, Sedona should be at the top of your list.

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