Day 20 - Sedona Mountain Bike Ride

Today I had arranged to meet up with Rockman from the MTBR forum, on a previous trip to Flagstaff he had recognised me as he drove past me riding and had shouted Hey Zinger-UK. So I'd looked him up to ride with him on this trip. As I was planning on doing a night ride as well as a day ride I drove down to Sedona on my own via the I17 and HW179, and parked in Oak Creek Village. When Rockman turned up we set off at about 10:30am and rode up the 179 for about a mile and turned off right into the Big Park and rode through there before connecting onto the Bell Rock Path. It was a clear sunny day with not a cloud in the sky, and was quite warm.
We Cut off the Bell Rock path onto the Little Bell trail and then rode up through a couple of dry stream beds over to the Llama trail after about 3 miles of riding.



Courthouse Butte in background on Llama trail

There were a couple of muddy spots in the stream beds, and there was water in some of the rock pools along the trail, but on the whole the trail conditions were great, as the rain the night before had firmed the trail up.
The LLama trail heads North towards the Twin Butte, there's one steep rocky section , which seem 'd to be much rockier than the last time I'd ridden this trail.
The Llama trail ridden this way definitely has a more up hill feel than if you ride it the other way, even though the profile of the ride does show it goes down a fair bit.

The Llama trail is now a lot wider than when I first rode it many years ago, but is still a fun trail with great views all around, after about 6 miles of riding we reached the Little Horse trail and turned right and headed towards Chicken point. With view of the Twin Buttes ahead of us.
The Little horse trail has a few rock step ups and rooty sections as it winds up around the Twin Buttes towards chicken point, there one nearly unrideable section up a steep slick rock chute which Rockman had a go at riding up and nearly made it. From there the trail climbs steeply up towards chicken point.

We stopped here to have a bite to eat and take in the views, for a change there wasn't any wind at all at Chicken Point every other time I've been here there been a stiff breeze blowing at Chicken point. We now put knee pads on and set off up the Broken arrow trail this was about 6.5 miles into our ride.

There some nice sections of slick rock where the Broken arrow trail singletrack breaks out onto the rocks. After less than half a mile riding we carried our bike's on the High on the Hog trail.


The trail climbed up on slick rock bench's with great panoramic views all around. Rockman's rock riding skills were very evident on this section of trail as he disappeared off in front of me.
There is one section of the trail which drops down very steeply over the slick rock, I hiked (slipped) down this section of trail and then took a few pictures of Rockman riding down it.

On his first attempt he went down and twisted a muscle slightly. After knocking back a couple of advil he went back and had another go and this time cleaned in - very impressive my technical riding skills were not a patch on Rockman's.

The trail alternates between riding on slick rock, and very narrow dirt singletrack winding along with the rocks to one side and a steep drop on the other. There were a few sections of trail that I did Hike a Bike on as they were too much for me to do without risk of crashing - as I don't have the skills to ride very technical slick rock.

The trail has a number of ups and downs, until you climb along one last slick rock bench , then it reverts backs to narrow single track and drops down towards the mystic trail. With a couple of very technical steep sections down slick rock, which Rockman cleared easily and I hiked down.
High on the Hog joins onto the Pig Tail trail and that trail spits the joins onto the Mystic Trail The Mystic trail is a pretty easy wide trail which follow the course of underground cables. At the end of this trail we rode down the roads and connected onto the Bell rock Path, then we took the HT trail and ended up cutting across the 179 to a new car park and then onto a not very obvious trail across a barrier. My map does not show the new layout of the 179 .
We headed along the HT trail and then cut off on unsigned singletrack which headed up a wash, this joined onto Slim Shady and then we turned onto the Highline Trail. We had ridden around 13 miles at this point.
We headed up the section of trail through a wash that I had started to ride the day before, there was no sign of all the water that had been flowing down it yesterday. There are a few tricky uphill sections where the trail has been built up with rocky slabs. Rockman cleared these with ease , while I took some pictures.
Once we were past the sections that climbed through the wash the trail climbed gradually up to the high point, trail was nice and narrow , and by the looks of it will remain that way as the hill side next to the trail is very steep and off to your right there is usually a big drop. There a few downs along the way up but the trail mostly climbs.
The trail levels out as you head towards a rocky outcrop which has views out over the Verde Valley.
We stopped at had a bite to eat and take in the views, at the view point we had ridden about 15.5 miles to get to this point in the ride. The temperature was quite toasty now I guess it was around 85f.
From the view point the trail now plunges downwards by a series of fast switchbacks to a saddle between two high points. This section is pretty good fun. If you look very carefully at the pictures below you will see Rockman in the distance on the trail.
Once I'd caught up with Rockman he led me down off the saddle , the trail headed down on slick rock benches. With a couple of techy moves along the way.
On the way down there were a couple of spots which I pushed my bike down as they were too steep or cambered for me to take the risk of riding them. But Rockman who was used to the trails sailed down everything.
The Highline trail eventually drops down into a wash, there was a high tide mark in the wash which was about 1 metre above the trail, you wouldn't want to be in this wash if it was raining hard. We then connected onto the Baldwin Trail and headed down it , I'd never gone down it this way it was a good fast descent down to Oak Creek.
The trail alongside Oak Creek was nice, and it was a bit cooler down by the river. We had ridden about 17 miles by this point. From Buddha beach we climbed up the steep switch backs to the Templeton Trail

By the time we had got to the top of the switch backs it was 16:20, I ran out of water at this point , luckily Rockman was able to give me some of his water, as It was very hot now.

We rode around the slick rock bench that goes around Cathedral Rock heading towards the templeton Trail. This trail is nice and easy and pretty smooth.

We joined onto the Templeton trail which undulated up and down , until we cut of it and started to ride up a trail that went up along the edge of wash. Which I think is Slim Shady. This trail then climbed on upwards and we passed where we had turned off to ride Highline.
We then headed down the lower part of the Made in Shade trail, and I bought us cold Drinks at Bike & Bean.
From Bike and Bean we headed back to the trucks, my bike computer said we had ridden 24.35 mile. The ride had been one of the best of my holiday , great trails, views and company. The unofficial trails had been the best ones, even if I had had to do a bit of hike a bike on them.

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Rockman had to head back to Flagstaff as he had to look after his kids. Before he went he very generously said I could stay at his house the next night so I could ride in Flagstaff instead of the furnace that Phoenix would be. I then went to the IGA supermarket and bought food to replenish my energy after chomping a tub of ben of jerry's and some other nosh. I then drove my car up to one of the bigger car parks up near the back of bike and Bean. Unpacked my bike and set off for a ride at about 19:20.
It was an amazing night for a night ride as there was a full moon and not a cloud in the sky. It was still quite warm and there was hardly any wind blowing. the only problem with the lack of wind was while taking photos I did get bitten a couple of times by mosquito's.
I started my ride by taking the lower part of Made in The Shade.
I'd decided to ride Highline to the high point and then ride it back down the same way. Along the way I spotted this Scorpion on the trail.
I also spotted a pile of fresh poo along the trail, I hoped that it was just a coyote and not a mountain lion as I passed by it.
I stopped and took in the views at the view point on High Line which me and Rockman had stopped at earlier in the day. I forgot to turn off my main light , and when I cam back to my bike I found the light had stopped working, this left me with just my head torch, which while being an ok light is not quite as good as having 2 lights - if only for reassurance that if one fails you'll still be able to see where you are going. So I headed cautiously down the Highline trail, at one point I did go over the handlebars and narrowly avoided going over the edge by grabbing hold of some vegetation  
As I wanted to carry on riding but my head torch wouldn't last too long, I decided to cut over to the Bell Rock Path where I would be able to ride by Moonlight.
I rode along the Bell rock path to the Little Horse trail and rode up that one, I spotted dear several times as I rode up the trail. Until I came to the Llama trail and I turned off on that
The Llama trail by night was great fun, I stopped and played around near the end of the trail where the little water filled rock pools are. I tried my main light again here and it started to work again, it must have a thermal cut out that had kicked in earlier on.
From the end of The Llama trail I managed to get a bit lost , and ended up on the trail that heads around courthouse butte, as it was late and I needed to get back I carried my bike through the wilderness section of the trail.
I rode back through the Big Park, and talked myself out of doing even more riding as it was so late and I got back to the SUV at 00:40. I'd ridden another 18.63 miles on my night ride. Apart from my light failing me the ride had been really enjoyable in the dark. With the full moon giving great views of the mountains all around. I packed up my gear and then headed back up to Flagstaff, stopping at a garage on the way back for a milkshake.

Click here for Day 21