Mountain Biking in Arizona
By James Murren
There is Fruita/Moab. And there is Brevard-Pisgah/Dupont. Perhaps we can say Tahoe/Truckee. What about all the good riding spots on the Keweenaw Peninsula? Places on the map that are good for a week’s worth of riding, is what I’m getting at. You get me? One mountain biking (MTB) destination combo that I have not heard much about is Prescott/Sedona. After going there for a week of riding, I thought I might help put it on someone’s map, if it’s not already there. It is now on my list of destinations for MTB getaways.
>> Prescott Mile high pine forests on the edge of the desert, with hundreds of miles of cross-country trails that encircle the old cowboy town of yore, complete with a big courthouse sitting smack dab in the middle of town. This was my first go-round riding a bike on the trails in Prescott. Perhaps it’s a quaint overgeneralized summary of it. I once visited for an evening of cowboy poetry, which had me laughing aloud and sitting in a state of ponderance.
>> Sedona Mind-blowing red rock formations that seem impossible to have been sculpted and carved into reality, but Mother Nature works her magic here, unlike the soul searchers and whoever-elsers who seek energy via GPS coordinates loaded on their phones, the shamans having messaged them the pinpoint exactitude. Oh wait, there are men and women riding bikes all over the rocks, too, dodging the Pepto-Bismol-colored jeeps with hordes of humans in zip off pants and safari vests!
>> Prescott Wolverton (#9415) > Aspen Creek (#48) > 393 > 327 > 322 > 392. Locals recommended this route and I was super glad I did it. The climb up Wolverton was gradual, getting the heart rate up while getting slammed in the face by wind gusts. From there, connecting the segments was easy as easy gets. On a Tuesday morning, I did not see one other human for two-plus hours. It had a backwoods feel to it, a sense of remoteness creeping in here and there. Up and down, it went, Prescott being a place for people who like to pedal. Running water over rocks was pure joy, mountain streams having that effect on me.
>> Sedona I have been going at least once a year for the past six. Every time I go, I ride the West Sedona Tour, Mescal being one of my favorite trails of all trails anywhere. This time, as I worked my way around Cockscomb, I saw a trail sign for Outer Limits. Huh? What’s that? Dunno, but I took it. No map. Keep the phone in the hydration pack, was my inaction. I liked the trail, a lot. Lots of pedaling and jaw-dropping views characterized it. I then came upon another trail sign. Last Frontier. Huh? I take it. Oh man did I revel in that drop down into the dry creek bed, but oh man did I get the heebie-jeebies on some of that precipitous stretch that felt loose, making me skittish enough to dismount. I was out there all alone, and one goof up might have meant I was gonna tumble a long way down. Turns out, I found out, Outer Limits/Last Frontier were opened up only two weeks prior to me riding them.
>> Prescott Prescott Brewing Company Ponderosa IPA. If you want a West Coast IPA, this one is not for you. To me, it is what IPAs, non-British but arguably American, are all about, if about means something like: a little resin stank with a slight citrus floral bouquet like what might have been the size of a prom boutonniere thrown in the pint/can, all the while lifted up by the malts, but not elevated by a Romanian powerlifter, instead by a toy-sized crane. I liked it, as the West Coast, or even San Diego, IPA sometimes needs to exit the palate area to make room for other IPA styles.
>> Sedona On the west side of town, not the one in Tlaquepaque, though I went there too, I stopped by the Oak Creek Brewing Company after finishing my last ride of a week’s worth of riding. The board showed that they had Prosperity Porter. I like roasty toasty porters and this one did not disappoint. It poured almost motor-oil-black, meaning it poured the color of the inside of a lava tube if you were to turn out your head lamp. Sitting out back on the patio, I had not a care in the world.