Trip Reports » Sedona Circ


For whatever reason, I’ve never made the trip to Sedona before. Too much excitement down here in Southern AZ, I guess. Yet, I often blow right by on my way to southern UT or CO. Troy‘s ride was the perfect excuse to give it a try. I really liked the idea of an overnight tour, but one where food/water are frequently available.

It was a big group. Bigger than anyone expected, I think. Not so good when you don’t really know anyone in the group, and are naturally quiet. But it was pretty cool to see that many people show up for a ride that included carrying camping gear. And it was a good group of folks. Slow, at times, especially as the forest dwellers tried to hide from the heat. It wasn’t cold, that’s for sure. Apparently it was hot enough to keep most everyone else off the trails. I expected crowds in late April, but I don’t think we saw any other cyclists on the trail (other than t-shirt bike path riders on rental bikes). Not too many hikers either.
It was cool to talk some with Troy, Blair and Brian, members of the fall ’06 AZT trek. I got some more detail on how that epic shaped up. Also fun to ride with Dara, whose technical skills and strength were impressive, especially riding loaded.

Most interesting of all, though, was that one of the group had ridden up and over Mt. Graham last spring, including a descent of the Ash Creek Trail! He described it as the best descent of his life. He said he forgot about the fact that he was alone and that an injury would be a very bad thing. Focused riding, he said (I can relate). It took him less than three hours (!!) to descend off the mountain. I was burning in jealousy as he described it. It confirms that monsoon ’06 caused the destruction.That’s good, though, because that was a fluke year, and if the FS can clear out some trees and rebuild some trail, Ash Creek may yet be a viable route for the GET / bike route.

The Sedona group grabbed burritos before heading back out to camp. It was a nice warm night, with a nearly full moon.We made our way back to Sedona on trails the following morning, where the group split. The core group went to finish their epic, riding back to Flagstaff that day. Everyone else made a b-line for the vehicles, leaving me to finish the “circumcision” loop alone. I got some brief directions from Troy before wishing him well on his climb back up to the rim.At the parking lot for Huckaby, I took a picture of the trail map, figuring it might come in handy. Then it was off down the trail for more classic Sedona singletrack. There’s not much variety in the trails in Sedona, but the average trail is really fun, so I’m not complaining. Huckaby was no exception — fun, moderately technical, and perfectly suited to a semi-loaded Leviathan (my bike). Damn was I impressed with how that bike ate up the red rock throughout the trip.

I saw the bridge that Troy told me I should go under. So after crossing the creek and seeing no obvious trail, I wandered in the direction of the creek. I checked the photo of the map — it showed no connection between Huckaby and Jim Thompson, by the bridge. I remembered Brian saying something about a “hike-a-bike” to get up to Jim Thompson. So I put two and two together and headed up the drainage under the bridge.Doh! A twenty foot pour-off blocked my path, with no sign of any trail around it. It was a nice enough spot, though, so I took a break and watched some search and rescue types practicing technical rescue, dangling from the bridge.

I cursed my camera’s flaky LCD screen that wasn’t giving me a very clear picture of the map. Then I remembered which gouge on the camera had resulted in the resurrection of the screen (when I dropped it on a Santa Rita flagging epic). I grabbed a rock and smashed it at the same spot. Bingo, screen back 100%.

Same story, though, there was no connection and it looked like I had to go over to Grasshopper camp ground. So I slowly made my way back down through the boulders and trees, somewhat reminiscent of Ash Creek. Then I saw the trail heading up towards the highway. I was doubtful until I saw there was a shelf where you could go under the bridge — just barely under.

I dodged the tourists and got back on track to Jim Thompson. An unmarked turn led me onto the old highway instead of Jim Thompson. I laughed and just rode across the bridge, looping back to where I came from.

Jim Thompson was more quality singletrack, closing the loop at Jordan Rd. I’m jealous of those that got the out ‘n back ride from Flagstaff, but I couldn’t afford that many miles on my legs. Just the Circ loop was enough for me.

It was a really unique way to visit a riding area for the first time. Driving in early morning, parking the car, then heading out on the trail for two days isolated me from the crowds and “town” of Sedona. No motel, no dumb restaurants, no toursits. Yet, these were well ridden, high quality trails, and we were never far from town. Riding light on water and food was great. Compared to my GET setup, I felt like I was riding unloaded.

In short, a totally different experience from driving in, staying at a motel and doing day rides. I hope to plan similar trips in the future.

This week I’m wrapping things up to join Paula in Manitou Springs, Colorado, which will be home base for the summer. Things are going well, but stuff keeps popping up. Went out on an impromptu trail layout trip with Mark Flint this afternoon. Crews ate up everything we laid out a few weeks ago, so we needed more. Tomorrow, a sunset run of Milagrosa.

Like I said, things keep popping up. Fun things…

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