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Posts tagged ‘Arizona’

Sedona’s Overlooked Neighbor

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Deservingly so, mountain bikers regularly flock to Sedona, Arizona.  Well known as a mountain biking playground, there is no denying the allure of the famous red dirt and stunning mesas.  Include me among the many that will always jump at the chance to ride the area.

But, those in the know are well aware of the awesome, but less known trails overlooking the nearby town of Cottonwood.  Offering a slightly different riding experience, Cottonwood doesn’t bring the vast scale of trail networks one will find in neighboring Sedona, but don’t let that fool you.  I’ve been riding here the past few days and have been pleasantly surprised with the variety of riding conditions, lack of crowds, and immediate access from the Dead Horse Ranch State Park campsites.

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Riding the McDowell Mountains

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I really need to be more consistent in reading the trail descriptions before pointing my bike towards the mountains on trails I’ve never ridden.

The final “big” climb I loaded onto my Garmin was essentially unridable, resulting in a miserable two mile hike-a-bike slog 1,300ft to the summit pass.

Fortunately, the back side of the mountain rewarded me with an ear-to-ear grin-inducing 1,700ft descent back to camp.

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Desert Riding

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Today I kickoff my Arizona winter riding season under blue skies and perfect temperatures.  All good here.

 

 

Back In The Desert

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On the heels of a nearly six-month hiatus from boon-docking (our preferred style of free camping), late yesterday we arrived to a great spot on public land just in time to catch our first Arizona sunset of the winter season.

Despite our summer and fall travels spent mostly in paid and crowded campgrounds across the Canadian Rockies and US Smokey Mountains, we quickly slid into the set-up routine without missing a beat … I even remembered to orient the rooftop solar panels to tilt facing south.

All is good again.

Big Ride, Big Mishaps, Big Fun

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Naïveté: (noun) lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment.

I generally do not think of myself as being naive, but today proved differently.

Having spent the past few days riding trails here in Flagstaff (Arizona), I was keen to complete the “Round the Peaks” loop – an approximately 50 mile loop (+/- depending upon where one starts) circumnavigating the base of Humphrey’s Peak (12,633 ft).  Locals I spoke to – in some form or another – consistently described this loop as being “quintessential Flag”.

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Capturing a variety of terrain, offering stunning views, and presenting challenging climbs and technical downhills, I was told to find time for this ride before departing the area.

I was giddy.

Along a route beginning at 7,174ft elevation and peaking at 9,329ft, originally my thinking was to bike camp the ride, overnighting on the mountain, and in the process, splitting the distance into two reasonable day efforts.

However, because I continue to change my ‘perfect’ bike camp set-up and haven’t actually yet bought any gear, I find myself in a situation pretty much devoid of most necessary bike camping essentials.

No worries, I’ll do long day ride. On the trail early, home by mid-afternoon.

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In hindsight, I can now see that my actions this morning were pretty much naive from the start: 1) allotting only 6 hours for the ride, 2) assuming 2.5 liters of water would suffice, and 3) underestimating the toll 5,100ft of climbing would have on my legs.

I missed the 6 hours by 90 minutes, ran out of water 45 minutes from finishing, and hopelessly suffered from legs that turned into jelly.

And, I broke a spoke.

Despite a day littered with mishaps, I nevertheless had a great (and very long) ride.

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The Eternity Of Five Minutes

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Corpse Pose.  It goes something like this …

“Invite peace and silence into your mind, body, and soul.  Stay in Savasana for five minutes.  To exit the pose, first begin to deepen your breath.  Bring gentle movement and awareness back to your body, wiggling your fingers and toes”.

Yesterday, upon concluding my best efforts to balance, bend, and twist through the practice, my smartphone yoga app again offered me this thoughtful guidance.  And just like always, I struggled with Corpse Pose.

I failed to lie on ground and let my mind completely relax.  I didn’t close my eyes.  I didn’t invite peace or silence into my mind.

Instead, I continued to look high into the sky.

When I should have been taking measures to gradually enter a truly relaxed state, I reached for my iPhone and took the picture above.

Painting the Desert Sky

Because our rig cannot easily sustain continuous high altitude winter conditions, Kelly and I flee to the desert southwest this time of year, biding time until we can again comfortably deal with realities of weather at high altitudes.

Generally speaking, I am not a huge fan of the desert.  Given the choice I will always prefer to spend time in the big mountain regions of the west.

However, anyone who has spent time in the Arizona desert – myself included –  will confirm the sunrises and sunsets are crazy beautiful.  Colors that words cannot adequately describe, paint the sky in a fashion one can only appreciate witnessing firsthand.

If ever in the area, I suggest taking pause to experience these moments for yourself.

Yes, as you awake to catch sunrise, the morning air will be shocking chilly as you step outside.  You’d be surprised how well a warm cup of coffee – steam quietly rising from your cup complements the moment.

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Later in the evening, once you’ve completed all the bullshit that consumed your day, grab a preferred cocktail of choice and once again step outside.

The weather will be pleasant – nicer than it was in the morning, but there will be no denying nightfall is quickly approaching.  Cooler air will soon overtake these last moments of sun and warmth.

Sipping from that drink as you observe all that is happening above, take note how the sky shifts colors from blue, to a swirl of pink and purple, before fading to brilliant fiery orange just as the sun dips below the horizon.

Yes, good stuff.

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