Saturday, March 29, 2014

Arizona Day 6 - Schnebly Hill and tamer trails, except for Hiline

Friday I winged a loop around Sedona. No pre-planned GPS track, no specific route I was going to follow. After getting battered at the end of Thursday's ride, I sought out some of the easier trails. Aleve and a 2400ft climb to start things off should get the bruised hip working smoothly again.

The weather has been quite phenomenal for riding. That's good and bad. The guy at Absolute Bikes was hoping for rain this week when there was a slight chance. He said if Sedona doesn't get some rain soon, the forest service could close large tracts of land to reduce risk of forest fires. I overheard a couple locals talking about how Sedona never had a winter this season. For me, it made dressing for rides easy. Maybe only a windbreaker was needed to start out. By midday, the temp was ideal.

I headed over to Schnebly Hill Rd, which gains 2400ft from town as a rough jeep road. I've climbed it on two other occasions I believe. I had thought about riding all the way out to Mormon Lake, but that would have been a full day of doubletrack riding. Instead, I rode to the highpoint and turned around. I felt surprisingly good, climbing steadily for an hour-plus at a light to moderate tempo effort. I took photos on the way down, not up, so I wouldn't interrupt the climb. An early start meant I beat the jeep traffic on the climb, but it was a steady parade of touring jeeps coming up on my descent.

I worked my way over to the Village of Oak Creek after that on easier trails. Topping off water in Oak Creek, I continued on trails I missed on Thursday's ride, like Hiline. I first rode Hiline with Alex a couple years ago. It is an official trail now, on the map and all. Very well maintained and constructed. That doesn't mean my wits wouldn't get the best of me and force me to dismount to walk perfectly rideable sections. Just something about the prospect of falling to the outside and rag-dolling for a couple hundred feet.

What draws me to the Hiline Trail is the view. Of all the trails I've ridden in Sedona, Hiline offers the most dramatic views of popular sites. When I rode Hiline with Alex, I think we rode most of it. Not today. There was nobody up there. A fall would have been disastrous.

I always seem to blank out the least desirable parts of rides when repeating them. The descent from Cathedral Rock not only confounds me, but the fact that people actually can ride it seems to defy physics.  You have to see riders cleaning it to believe it. While I was contemplating how to get down one section on foot without breaking both legs in a fall, a rider approached and stopped momentarily above me. I asked if he was going to ride it. He said yeah. I got out of the way. I thought for sure I'd be pulling out my phone to dial 9-1-1. But no, he cleaned it. Then he proceed to BOMB all the sections below that were just as nasty.

I crossed Oak Creek the same place I did in Thursday's ride. This time I was smahtah. I took my shoes and socks off to make sure wetness wouldn't attract red clay dust to form concrete in the cleats again. I finished up the loop by linking several trails that are "behind my hotel." Didn't see many people in this area, just west and south of the airport. The cool kids play in other areas now. I actually liked some of these trails, like Ridgeline. Tough climb, great view from the top, fast flowy descent.

I finished with 47.8mi in 5.3hrs riding time with 6000ft of climbing. That makes six days in a row riding significant new content, probably well over 100 miles of trails I've ridden for the first time. I've been to Tucson maybe 10 times now, and this was my fourth visit to Sedona. There are so many trails in both cities I haven't ridden yet, and new trails are being constructed every year.

After dark, Cathy and I headed out away from town to a trailhead. Spooky dark there, no moon in the sky, just stars. It was the first cloudless night of the trip. Sedona doesn't have much city lighting, so not much light pollution. The sky was pretty impressive, the first time Cathy saw the Milky Way. It wasn't quite as good that one time Dave and I drove back to Gunnison from Ouray though. That was much higher elevation and further away from any artificial lights.

Visiting Tucson and Sedona, Cathy and I talked about whether we could live in either city part-time. Instead of establishing a single homestead in Colorado in retirement, maybe do what my dad does. He has two modest places, a place on a lake in Michigan where he spends the summers and a place on the Texas gulf coast for winter. I do like Nordic skiing though, so not sure if I'd really want to spend the whole winter in a place where it is perfect riding conditions. Tough call. Have to think about this one some more.

Top of Schnebly Hill Rd at 6500ft

Grasslands above Sedona. Mingus Mtn in far distance, with Prescott on other side.

Snow-capped Humphrey's Peak at Flagstaff.

Sedona from Schnebly Vista.

Ledgy Schnebly Hill Road. I think I climbed this faster than folks in their Rav-4's.

Chapel Trail

Bench at beginning of Hiline Trail.

Only tame part of Hiline Trail. Tried five times to time this shot right and gave up. I was
either out of the frame or in the way of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock or just
clipping in like this shot.

A fall over the edge would be disastrous. There is nothing to arrest your fall here.

Back side of Cathedral Rock. Can you see the trail as it slowly meanders down this massive
area of slick rock?

Love my Panasonic LX7. Here's a cropped, 100% pixel scale zoom of image above. Now
you can see the trail and a group of mountain bikers that I passed on my way down. There is
probably over a mile of slickrock trail shown in image above.

A snippet of Hiline descent. Grade was almost certainly greater than 100% (that means
steeper than 45 degree angle for those who got D's in geometry class). This is hands and feet
scrambling on foot. Note rubber skid marks.

On top of Ridgeline Trail near airport. Grand view of Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock and
Cathedral Rock.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Tuscon? To live?

Why not Moab? Equal or better biking, skiing in the mountains, or drive to Park City.