Tag Archives: mountain biking

A Challenge Completed

If you are on a reasonably fast connection change the youtube settings to 720 HD and full screen for best viewing.

A little while back I discovered that a hillside near our house has several challenging trails on it. I have been trying to clean this section for a while. By clean, I mean ride it all the way through without putting a foot down. A few days back, after I first managed to clean it, I decided it’s time to break out the go pro again.

This next clip is me trying to take the even more challenging high line up and around the boulder in the middle rather than around the bottom of it. I still have not quite managed to get it. With a little persistence I hope to get this tough new line.

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New Flagstaff Loop Trail

Jay and I are incredibly excited about the Flagstaff Loop Trail, a 42 mile circle of mostly singletrack surrounding Flagstaff.  Construction on the Loop Trail began in 2008 and Flagstaff Biking Organization hopes to fully connect the loop through trail construction this year.  We helped on one of the missing links this spring and really hope that the remaining missing links will be finished by the end of the year.

In the meantime, we are now able to make a small loop near our apartment on Lake Mary Road by connecting to a new Loop Trail segment behind the Pine Canyon gated community.  That segment heads across a mesa and then drops down towards Skunk Canyon.  At the moment most of the trail is unsigned so it is helpful to either study the Loop Trail map (see link above) or go with someone who knows the area.  The Loop Trail is designed to be between beginner and intermediate so it is the perfect practice area for me.

The first video shows where the new trail turns off of the Arizona Trail.  If you stayed straight it would head towards Fisher Point.

This video shows a representative sample of the trail.  Note the extremely dry conditions.  The trail should improve when we’ve had some more rain.

Mountain Biking in Flagstaff, The Jedi Trail

The Jedi Trail

The Jedi trail is a long standing local staple and  goes from the Dry Lake to  Little Gnarly near the Shultz Creek Trail junction. The Jedi is known for its many log crossings. One of the hardest ones has been cut out. As you can see by my minor fall, my log crossing skills have gotten a little rusty. Its very rare that some masochist tries to ride it in the uphill direction and its generally ridden down. Its a lot more fun than going down little Gnarly and its also better than going down Lower Brook Bank to Elden Lookout trail.

Mountain Biking in the Pine-Strawberry AZ Area

Jay riding the Pine-Strawberry Trail on his Salsa Fargo

Over the long weekend, Sharon and I agreed we needed to get out and camp somewhere. We decided on Rim Country based on the prediction of perfect weather. The prediction held true. I had a great morning riding the Pine-Strawberry Trail. I rode from our campsite off of Hardscrabble Road up to Fossil Creek Road. This portion of the dirt road was very fast on my bike, a Salsa Fargo 29er.  I then took the Fossil Creek Road on through the town of Strawberry and picked up the Pine-Strawberry Trail.

Unfortunately the video footage above is washed out or over exposed.  I hope future full sunlight footage will be better, as I plan to get a polarizing filter for the go-pro camera. I was wearing sunglasses, but the mixed shade/sun/shade made it hard for me to see at times. It’s so washed out that it is hard to see, but early on in the video the trail is quite steep and I just let the bike roll, plunging off of multiple ledges. Yes, it was a rough ride on a rigid bike.

I still really want to come back at some point and ride the Highline Trail/ Arizona Trail. Of course, if I am still in northern Arizona I do not think I will want to miss the Fire On The Rim race and festival.

First Trail Building Day of the Season

Trail building mascot

Saturday was a beautiful day here in Flagstaff and a great one to start off the summer trail building season with Flagstaff Biking Organization.  Saturday’s event included support from the US Forest Service, American Conservation Experience, Absolute Bikes, Run Flagstaff, Fratelli’s Pizza, and Kickstand Kafe.  With all of that community support, it’s no surprise that there was a great turnout.

The crowd on Saturday seemed like a cross section of the active involved folks of Flag.  There were families with kids from age six to sixteen, young men that live for adrenaline and are part of the Gravity Riders group, couples who were enjoying a chance to work side by side, and older adults who showed the rest of us what hard work really looked like.  On their website, FBO encourages people of all ages and ability levels to come out to a work day.  The FBO rep (pictured below) reinforced this message by letting us all know at the beginning that shovel leaning was acceptable.  He said that some people come out every month just to lean on their shovels and chat and that that is perfectly ok.  Trail work days are as much about building the community as they are about building the trails.

I was really impressed how FBO took the lead in organizing the event, but then asked the volunteers who came to step up and form small groups with an experienced trail builder leading each team.  Jay and I each had the opportunity to lead a small team, though as the day carried on and all of the volunteers got familiar with the techniques we all just spread out and worked where we were needed.  With so many volunteers, the line of trail builders stretched out over at least a quarter mile.  In all we probably completed over a half of a mile of brand new trail.

The trail we were building is an important connector segment of the Flagstaff Loop Trail.  Once complete, the Flagstaff Loop Trail will be a 42 mile route that circumnavigates Flagstaff.  It will provide connections and access to many other important trails in the area, including the Arizona Trail, Forest Service singletrack on Mt Elden and Campbell Mesa singletrack.  Where we were working, the trail follows US Forest Service land, but in all it crosses many different boundaries, covering land owned by the City, County, US Forest Service, and even ADOT.  There are great maps showing the proposed trail and how it connects the city.

FBO has planned trail work days every month from now until October and almost every month we will be working on the Flagstaff Loop Trail.  If the attendance at trail days can stay at this level or grow, we should make very significant progress on the trail this year.

The next trail day is scheduled for National Trails Day (June 2nd) and we will be working on the Loop Trail near Ft Tuthill.  The National Trails Day event is sponsored by REI, Absolute Bikes, and Specialized and is sure to be a big and fun event.  I hope to see you out there!

If you want to see all of the photos from Saturday, check out this online album.

FBO’s Trail Ambassador Program

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Sean talks to a trail runner who is reporting evidence of a large campfire near a main trail

Today I had the opportunity to attend Trail Ambassador Training with Kip Moyer, Flagstaff Biking Organization’s Trail Ambassador Program Coordinator, and Sean Murphy, Trails and Wilderness Coordinator for the Flagstaff Ranger District.  The Trail Ambassador Program is a volunteer effort to train and support responsible trail users in promoting responsible trail use.  As a Trail Ambassador, I would put on a special volunteer jersey that identifies me as a trail ambassador, and then go out for my normal ride being friendly and available.  Trail Ambassadors help users by answering questions, assisting with basic bike maintenance, and calling for help if necessary.  They also help the Ranger District by noting any maintenance issues or potential violations and reporting those.

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Trail Ambassadors out of uniform

This Trail Ambassador program is very similar to IMBA’s Mountain Bike Patrol (which has 50 patrol groups around the country), except that in the Flagstaff Ranger District it is a collaborative effort by different user types (hikers and bikers and soon trail runners).  Since all of the trails are multi-use it is great to have all trail users involved as ambassadors.   Having a visible volunteer ambassador presence will hopefully prevent user conflict and improve the response time for trail maintenance concerns.  I look forward to getting involved with this unique opportunity.

Mountain Biking Progress: I See Contours and Grade Reversals

Ever since the IMBA Trail Care Crew visited I have entered a new stage in my mountain biking  journey.  Not only are my skills improving after the chance to have some one-on-one coaching in Sedona, but now when I ride I see trail design successes and failures. In fact sometimes it’s downright distracting.  Yesterday, I started rolling down a steep loose rutted section, and I began looking at the hillside to estimate grade to guestimate whether this section was built on the fall line or just constructed at too steep a grade and without grade reversals.   Next thing I know I’m putting a foot down before I bounce off the edge into a hungry cactus.  Not quite ready for that kind of multitasking.

Yesterday I rode at Usery Mountain Regional Park on a few beginner to intermediate loops.  It was awesome.  Lately I’ve been reading, IMBA’s “Managing Mountain Biking”.  In the first chapter they discuss what mountain bikers want: connection to nature, escape, fun, challenge, exercise, variety, connections, camaraderie, a sense of belonging, and facilities.  In just a 90 minute ride I was able to experience all of these (except camaraderie) at Usery Mountain.  They got it right every step of the way, starting with a nice  welcome from a volunteer manning the entrance gate.  She provided me with an easy to read  map with recommended trails for mountain bikers.  At the trailhead there was a clean restroom and clear signage.

I started on the Blevins Trail, which is a mostly flat winding singletrack that curves around eight foot tall chain fruit Cholla and Saguaros.  It’s springtime and many of the cacti were blooming causing me yet another distraction as I would screech to a stop to ooh and ahh over the pinks, oranges, and yellows.  I had brought my camera along, so I was able to alternate photography and biking.

The Blevins and Moon Rock trails were very fast, so even with my frequent stops I was able to get to the junction with Cat Peak quickly.  The trail description didn’t list difficulties, but I assumed (correctly) that going around this mini-peak would mean moving onto intermediate level trail with some more technical sections.

Cat Peak Trail involved climbing over badly eroded water bars, a technical challenge that I am just learning to tackle.  It’s nice to learn to ride over water bars, but I really hope that the sustainable trail building practices from IMBA will gain universal acceptance and we can replace these water bars with re-routes on the contour and/or grade reversals.

All in all I had a fabulous time.  I would love to go back to Usery Mountain to explore other trails.  Did I mention that while I was riding in Phoenix it was snowing in Flagstaff?  Desert riding for the win!