Friday, September 14, 2012

Flagstaff Super 8

After getting jacked back in April during the AZT300, I’ve had an itch needing a good scratching all summer.  Long day rides have helped, but not truly satisfied that need to go long… The Coco250 is in my sights as my next multiday challenge but I figured I needed some good saddle time before tapering down for that early October race. 
So, given the great late summer weather up on the Coconino plateau, I figured it was time to do my first overnight trip up there…and heck, with our cabin in Munds Park, it seemed appropriate to make it a sort of backyard epic.  Leave from the cabin on Thursday morning and roll back in Friday afternoon with enough time to sit on the deck, enjoy a few beers and wait for my lovely wife to arrive so I could tell her stories of my epic awesomeness…lol
Anyway, I had put together a revised version of the Crazy 88 a few weeks ago and as luck would have it, came down with a cold a fews days before the ride which I’d communicated to a group of my fellow endurance junkies.  John, Seron, and Noel decided they wanted in and we met that Saturday for the ride.  I’d decided to suffer through ½ of it, and I thought the rest of them had plans to do the same.  Then out of almost nowhere, Noel decides to go big and nearly completes the entire loop…a solid and very impressive performance.  John decided to finish the ride on the next day; still a burly accomplishment.
Since I didn’t do the full loop, I needed some redemption – but I also wanted to get an overnight trip in to test some new gear and sleep under the stars.  Thus, the Flagstaff Super 8 was born… A modified version of the new Crazy 88 route, but longer…about 125 miles and around 9,000 ft of climbing.
I’d organized most of the gear last weekend since I was traveling Sunday through Wednesday but still did my usual, semi-neurotic planning exercise complete with checklists and spreadsheets… Arrived in Munds Park and proceeded to get the bike loaded up and pour through my final list…
Loaded up and ready to go!
Finally, a few minutes after 10AM, I departed, and not more than 100 yard off the pavement, I hit some brutal, tire clogging mud just north of Munds Park…uggh…trips aren’t supposed to start like this!  It literally would stop your tires like big rim brakes…I took me probably 2x as long to go the 5 or so miles to FR700. 
Carpet of Yellow...with a little residual mud...
Finally on my way north to Flag, I decided to try some different trail and took a detour just off Old Munds Highway which connected up to the Ft. Tuthill trails.  Some fun little trails in there with a few techy spots thrown in to keep you honest. Continuing north on the FUTs, I decided to ride through the NAU campus.  It was that moment when I felt really OLD…I thought, “why do all these girls look so young?”…then it hit me…because I’m so OLD! I’m sure was at least a few that thought, “who’s that creepy old dude on the bike?  Is he a homeless guy?” 
Picked up some water in Flag and proceeded north up San Francisco Street and the obligatory trespassing on the trail next to the Elks Lodge.  At the top of Schultz Pass, my plan was to take Waterline Rd but being a weekday, I was worried about construction.  Sure enough, all sorts of construction activity going on so I decided to take the lower route around the east side of the peaks.  Such a shame – I really wanted to ride that Inner Basin trail again.
Peaks from FR418

Peaks from FR418

Made the grunt up FR418 and finally south on the AZT and the never-ending, grin-inducing downhill.  I wanted to get over near the Little Bear junction before stopping for the day, so I pressed on east on the AZT and finally down Little Elden.  Found a nice spot, slammed my Recoverite, and layed down and stared at the stars.
Got packed up Friday morning and hit the trail at 6:30AM.  It was nice and crisp, and even downright chilly on the descent. Made to Hwy89 where I stopped at the Conoco for some water.   Back on the trail heading east, was just such a treat.  
The bike on Noels Bridge...Noel, you take a right after this bridge dude.
 The dew had everything glimmering and damp, and all I could think about was how lucky I was to be riding this trail that morning.  Heading east, the trail sort of meanders along on the north slide of i-40, and then finally cuts south under the RR tracks and I-40 at about what feels like Winslow. Then back the west and finally at the trailhead for Walnut canyon I spot this in a tree…WTF?
oh baby, I've been looking for you...what is it about that tree you like so much?
West across the top of Walnut Canyon, down toward Fisher Pt, then up Fay Canyon, which is a bit of singletrack that I had never ridden…quite the little gem of ST in there.  I then worked my way back to Munds Park on some Forrest Roads and luckily yesterdays mud had pretty much dried up…
All in all, a great trip with some stupendous weather and great scenery!


  1. Thanks for the write bags are packed, my Don Miguel is in the fridge and I'm itching to go....wish I could have joined you.

  2. Great writeup Ray. That is a worthy name for this route. Glad to see the death mud didn't stop you in your tracks for too long.
    I'm looking for a bit of redemption myself, going head back up there on the 29th to knock out the 88 (throw in Little Bear) in one push.

  3. you had to stop at the tree didn't you... creepy old dude. ha!