Monday, July 25, 2011

ANOTHER Epic Flag ride

This blog is probably getting to be a bit boring to read...yes, another epic Flag ride... PaulD reached out to me earlier in the week looking for a long ride up by Flagstaff. In his training for Leadville, he training plan called for a 8ish hour ride and I figured I had just the ticket. Up Shultz, west on AZT, up SB road, AZT north at Aspen corner, north and around Walker Lake, then back south. We took the new section of AZT till it ended then HAB'd up to the road where we climbed back up to Snow Bowl. Jumping on the Aspen nature loop trail and dodging the throngs of hikers, we hit the AZT again went south till it ended, HAB'd to the road then down the road to the AZT, east on AZT to Schultz, then bombed like madmen down Schultz...or at least in our minds we were bombing down it. The trails, albeit kinda dry and dusty, were almost deserted the further north we were. Tons of great wildflowers, ferns and single track. Always a good sign when my brake levers have remnants of ferns stuck in them.
Super day on the bike...Something about a long ride, far away from the car just has such appeal to me. Yesterdays ride fit the bill well.... 58.7 miles, 6261vft of climbing.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Something about going deep into a hole in the ground intrigues me… as it apparently does about a hundred other people that ventured to the lava tube north of Flagstaff on Saturday. We had attempted to do this a few weeks ago when we had some family visiting but lacked in a big way on adequate light sources. This time, I brought out the “big guns”... magicshines from my night riding gear. I mounted each on a helmet that my daughter and I each wore. My wife wasn’t sure she could handle the claustrophobic nature of the cave, so she came along with one of our brighter flashlights with the intent of turning around after a few hundred yards.
Showing up at the tube entrance at about 2pm on Saturday, we had plenty of company. The entrance looked like ant pile with people swarming around the entrance. Most of these people had no intent on venturing inside but merely look down into the darkness. We stood amongst them, put our helmets on, hooked up the lights and down in the hole we went.
At first, it was like rush hour on the freeway. People everywhere. Lucky for us, with our hands free, we were able to scramble past people quite easily. Within a few hundred yards, the tube levels out and we were past most of the poorly equipped people.
The tube itself is pretty amazing…many places you are walking along a solidified river of lava. The ceiling of the tube is almost a perfect semicircle in many places; seemingly man-made. At one place roughly ½ of the total 1 mile length, the ceiling height is significantly reduced such that it requires some crouched walking. The temperature in the tube is fairly brisk as well…about 40 degrees.
The helmet-mounted magicshines were perfect for the job. We ran them on Low and still had tons of light. Several people commented on how bright they were and how jealous they were! Having a helmet on was also a good thing since there were a few places where a bump to the head was likely with the low ceilings.
All three of us ended up going to the end of the cave. With the almost “daylight” conditions, my wife’s claustrophobia didn’t bother her. So, in the end, we considered the adventure a success and decided we’d do it all over again some other day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Backyard Ride

I feel very fortunate to be able to spend many weekends in Munds Park, AZ. It's cool, quiet, and relaxing. For mountain biking, the really good trails are still a 50 mile RT drive which I did almost every ride last summer. This year, I decided I'd be more conscious of the miles and subsequent cost of driving my truck 50 miles each time I wanted to ride. Although riding forest roads aren't the funnest, they are still good miles and offer some good climbs.
The AZ Trail runs N-S about 14 miles east of Munds Park. I put together a GPX file by pasting together a variety of tracks as well as drawing my own. That was enough for me to see a few of the easy to miss turns.
From Munds Park, it's about 19 miles to the AZT (CW loop). A hard right (easy to miss) turn and you're on some really great AZT singletrack. It follows the eastern contours of Mormon Mountain, eventually crossing FR240, and continuing south. Nice singletrack, a few chunky climbs to test your skill, but all-in-all, a nice cruise. Finally, jumping on FR219b heading NW back to MP completed the 43 mile ride...75% forest road, 25% single track.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day of the (Dead) Dirt

Today(Saturday) was the first rain of the summer in Munds Park and probably the same for north of Flag...and man does the forest need it. Set out yesterday for not quite an epic, but a good 3 hour-ish ride to explore the AZT section as it crosses Snow Bowl road and heads north. Last week coming south the trail stopped and was largely unfinished. From the south, off of Snow Bowl road, it meanders up the slope before heading slightly west towards Big Leroux Spring.
In usual fashion, the crews have done a great job constructing the trail through the boulder fields and left many in place to keep it interesting. It looks like there's less than a half mile left to finish to connect the two sections. When it's finished sometime this summer and some rain packs in down a bit, it'll be another classic section of AZT.

A few more pics from the ride...