Riding in a Desert Wonderland
Living is Arizona this time of year is as good as it gets for mountain bikers. While the mountain bikers in the arctic regions up north are stowing their bikes for a long winterâ€™s nap, Phoenicians wake each morning to warm sunny skies and a tough decision to makeâ€¦which trail should I ride today?
Since the end of October Iâ€™ve logged nearly 80 miles in pristine riding conditions on some of the best singletrack in the state. When I needed a short riding fix in the middle of the day I headed to Pass Mountain. I rode the cutoff trail from the Usery Pass Road up to the saddle then back down in about an hour.
I finally scouted out and rode the south east leg of Casa Grande Mountain. That section of trail reminded me of Bootleg Canyon, not quite as technical but plenty fast and exposed.
I spent a Saturday morning at the packed Trek Demo Days at South Mountain. An hour and a half clipped into the Fuel EX 9.5 cruising Desert Classic was enough to make me sing sweet praises to Trek engineers.
Sunrise in the afternoon is beautiful; I climbed with the sun on my back then descended the back side in the cool shade of the mountain.
For Thanksgiving I hit the Highline, Military Sinkhole, Drew 291 and Willow Springs Lake trails up on the Mogollon Rim. Even at 7700 feet the weather was perfect for Turkey Day riding. The very next weekend the first snows covered the rim. Glad I got a good 30 miles in before saying goodbye to the high country for a few months.
The occasional winter rains leave the trails in perfect sticky condition for making fast turns and cleaning technical climbs. Such was the day I rode Wild Horse and Big Rock trails near the Hawes Loops. Wild Horse is casual sticky sweet singletrack at me feet.
As I stroll through, hammer up or hoot-n-holler down the plethora of trails this desert valley sets before me, I have to ask myself one question: Do I feel lucky? Man do I feel lucky.
The best part about this time of year is I still have the rest of December, all of January, February, March, April, and even May to ride these conditions. When itâ€™s finally summer time again, Iâ€™ll still have my favorite trails in the wee hours of the morning, and there is always the Rim, Sedona and Flagstaff if I want to sleep in. Arizona is a year round mountain bikerâ€™s paradise. Come visit this winter, the trails are waitingâ€¦
One thought on “Riding in a Desert Wonderland”
Yeah, it’s hard to beat Arizona in the winter. I’m lucky to have a brother in Scottsdale and a job that allows me to “work remotely” for a week once or twice a year. I’m halfway through my 6 days of riding bliss and am already planning my next trip in March!
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