The weather was pretty nice.
The scenery was decent, too. I rode around the Bell rock area for a while (nice wide roads, but nothing overly exciting), then I took the Templeton Trail to the Baldwin Loop. That's where the riding got really good.
After cruising the high desert and rocky switchbacks for a while, I dropped down into a river valley, and suddenly, I felt like I was back in New York. Roots, grass, and actual trees! Crazy for Arizona.
I was feeling freaking fantastic. I was ripping technical lines, hopping off of knolls, and pumping banked turns to gain speed (but not too much speed because I wasn't really familiar with the trails and I never really knew what was around the corner). I was feeling so good, though, that I decided to follow this guy's advice for taking better outdoor photos.
Thankfully, I avoided that cactus. I continued on the Baldwin loop, and got to some more stellar scenery:
Then, I finished up by riding on the HT path, and some more stuff closer to Sedona proper. In fact, my route was similar to this route (probably what a lot of first timers do, as it was recommended by the guys at Sedona Bike & Bean, the first bike shop on the road in).
I cruised into town for a while for some lunch with my parents. The town was a little hokey with all the typical tourist shops. Apparently there's a big new-age hippy dippy contingent in town that hawks tarot card readings, fortune telling, and "magic" crystals. I guess there are several "vortexes" in the area that supposedly harness some kind of cosmic energy. I just rode right past them, but I saw some people who appeared to be deep in meditation (I tried not to disturb their chi).
After lunch, I headed out on the Deadman's pass trail:
After a couple of miles of riding, though, I realized that I just did not have the leg power I wanted for the climbs. I did a little more riding and turned around. I was starting to think that maybe the mystics were punishing me for doubting their power. But then I looked to the southwest, and I realized that at least someone was shining on me.
On Thanksgiving day, I thought I'd try something a little closer to my brother's house in Scottsdale. A 30 minute drive in his ridiculous Jeep brought me to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park. I asked the guy at the Gate where the best mountain biking was, and he pointed me to the Pemberton Trail. While the views of mountains and Cacti were good, the trail was super boring. No hills, few turns, and no challenge at all.
I noticed on the map that there was a "Competitive Area" in the southwest corner of the park. This is where I should have been all along! Because I was a little tired from the 10 miles of boring riding I had just done, I opted for the "Sport Loop" (I would have done the Long Loop if I had gone to this area first). It was a little boring at the beginning, but then I saw this sign:
After that, it got good. Fast, flowy, not really technical, but just what I needed before I laced into some Turkey. The other cool thing is that all the trails were one way, so you didn't have to worry about anyone coming up on you when you're banking turns down a desert ravine. Very Cool.
Mountain Biking in Arizona is pretty damn fun (and I really just scratched the surface - mostly sticking to the "tourist" spots). Next time I go out there, I'll be sure to dive deeper into the scene and really see if I can find some more technical stuff, some cooler scenery, and some crazy lines. Maybe then, I'll be able to go with my brother too - might have to hire a mystic healer for him, though.