Every year, the cycling industry kicks off the year with the annual gathering of racers, riders, industry people and media at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. For those of us not based in the west, it’s also a great opportunity to see different parts of the country and most importantly … ride some great terrain.
Since we had made the long haul west, we thought it would only be appropriate to take the long way home from Sea Otter. This time, that meant a detour through Arizona and a stop for a few days of camping and riding in Sedona.
As a Northern Arizona native, Sedona has always been a special place for me. Memories of hanging out in Oak Creek Canyon with my parents, hiking in the winter or slide rock fill my imagination and memories. When I started mountain biking as a teenager, I started to see Sedona through a different lens though.
While Sedona has a lot of competition, I would argue that it offers some of the best mountain biking in the United States. Without a doubt it’s one of the most beautiful and unique riding destinations. While I was hesitant to tell anyone how awesome it is for years, the secret is out and Sedona is a bona-fide Mountain biking destination these days.
To say I was excited to ride here again is an understatement. Making this trip even more fun was the fact that I came in tow with a great group of friends, most of whom had never seen or ridden Sedona. There’s nothing better than showing friends new trails in such an epic place. Driving up Highway 179 from Phoenix, I loved watching everyone see the red rocks for the first time as we approached Oak Creek.
Sedona offers iconic red dirt, slick rock and an immense biodiversity of cacti, trees, lizards, birds, snakes and wildlife. The views of the buttes, mesas and rock formations constantly compete for your attention. It’s an incredibly beautiful area and truly one of a kind. Most trails are fairly fast and rolling in elevation. Even better, a large portion of trails are within extremely close proximity to downtown Sedona or, in our case, camp. Nothing better than rolling out for your ride without having to drive to a trailhead!
For this trip, we decided to forgo the busy streets of Sedona and set up camp just west of town near the unbelievable trail system in Western Sedona. For the next few days, we ate, drank and slept mountain biking.
Late April is an amazing time in Sedona. The spring break traffic fades and the snowbirds start to fly north, so the town is once again quiet and with it, so are the trails. With the sun was shining, temps in the 70’s, trail conditions were fantastic.
Several trails, specifically around Soldiers Pass had been completely re-worked since I had ridden them in February and the improvements were fantastic. One of the aspects that makes Sedona such a great riding destination is the tireless work by the many trail workers and volunteers in Sedona.
It’s easy to hit a slump in early spring, but there is no better tonic for the winter blues that riding some of the best trails Arizona has to offer.
Like any great mountain biking destination, you’ll leave Sedona wishing for more. You’ve likely only scratched the surface, but you’ll leave with a smile, a little more tan with a bunch of great memories!