July 28, 2012

Flagstaff 100

Plans were finally taking shape for a weekend up north in the pines, I was so ready to escape the desert for some cool riding among the trees I could taste it.  The idea for the weekend was to join a few of my riding buds for a tour of the area southeast of Flagstaff linking parts of the Arizona Trail (AZT). This route would be all new to me, so I was really excited to check it out. Day 2 would put us back on familiar ground with arguably the best mountain biking passsage of the AZT, San Francisco Peaks #34. Personally, I was aiming for 100 miles over the weekend and based on early predictions of the routes it would be close.

Work ran a bit late on Friday & I still had a ton to gather up for the weekend so I bailed on attempting to get up there that night. A Saturday early morning departure wasn't so bad, and I met up with the gang: Ray, Noel, Jason and Seron at Noel's mountain retreat with full trail access right off the back deck! I've been to a few events with Ray over the past couple of years, but he's a much stronger rider than I so we'd only chatted at the starts or online, so it was going to be nice to actually 'ride' with him this go-round. It was also nice to ride with Noel & Jason again, it had been too long. In the end we kept a good pace and we all weren't too far apart in fitness.

The gang of 5 getting set to head out on our Tour de Flag. Photo by Amy.
Ray and Noel had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to ride, connecting segments of AZT with some other sweet trails in the area. They left the connections relatively organic making for a more adventurous outing.  We even mixed in a little bit of smooth rolling pavement to break up the pace. It was such a fun route with great company, this could be a regular ride!!
The forest awaits.

We wouldn't have many views of the peaks today, but tomorrow we'll be on the flanks.

Very cool to ride into this cliff held meadow near Walnut Canyon.

The caboose came unhitched from this train at Fisher Point.

Sure was some beautiful dirt up north. Photo by Seron.

Ray showing off those mondo huge 777mm bars!!

Noel & Jason rounding out our riding posse.

Incredible mural on the side of Absolute Bikes in Flagstaff. Here's a time-lapse of the creation.
Photo by Seron.
A 15 minute shower wasn't going to rain on this parade, it made it better! Photo by Seron.

Back chillin' at the cabin after a 56 mile tour enjoying a cold one, now that's a good day. Photo by Seron.

Noel was kind enough to let us get showered before heading back to camp. We spent the rest of the evening around the camp fire roasting s'mores and drinking Yuengling beer I had brought back from PA. I actually had a good nights sleep in the tent before the big ride on Sunday.

We woke on Sunday to more great weather, sat down for our over indulgent breakfast and received a text from Chuck. Still meeting at the TH at 8am? Nope, not gonna happen Chuck, swing by the campground and join us for some grub, then we'll get our ride on!!

We made it out around 9-ish to the Shultz Creek TH, then Chuck showed us a different way to get to the AZT via the Fort Valley Trails. This section of AZT is easily in my top 3 of places to ride, I've had the good fortune to experience this trail 4 times over the past year and it never disappoints. Rip-roaring cross country to start, long constant grade to get the legs & lungs burning up into the high alpine followed by a kick-ass 4 mile swooping descent through aspens & ferns groves.  We hit FR418 had a snack then we attacked the trail all over again in the opposite direction.

Beautiful overlook climbing the flanks of the San Francisco Peaks.

It's like riding in the Land of the Lost.

It's a good thing when the trail is hard to find.

One of these days I'm going to head north to Utah. Photo by Seron.

Finishing up the 5 mile descent back to Snowbowl Rd. Photo by Seron.

It still amazes me how this can be only a few hours away. Photo by Seron.
As our day was winding down, both Seron & Chuck were on time constraints. We rolled across the fast XC section of the AZT to the Fort Valley turnoff. I was showing 38 miles on the day and was determined to hit 44, so I bid farewell to the fellas and continued on the AZT towards the Sunset TH. It wasn't all about getting the miles, this stretch of trail is devine with the superb contouring and the final 4 mile descent down Shultz Creek would put a smile on the most seasoned rider.
I'd leave Seron and Chuck here to continue on the AZT

About a 1/2 mile from the Shultz downhill run.

At the bottom, clouds formed, but the rains stayed away.
I watched as the miles ticked off, 41, 42, 43.....then just as I rolled up to the car: 44.00 on the nose! This gave me a cool century for the weekend, 100.53 miles in the pines. After all that, there's so much more Flagstaff has to offer, get up here and GET SOME!!

1 comment:

  1. Stupid caboose! That woulda been a sweet pic too. Drats!