Quantcast

Santa Fe and Flagstaff Adventure, a la grande.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by bikenweed, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. bikenweed

    bikenweed Turbo Monkey

    Rep/Likes:
    0 / 0
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    Messages:
    2,435
    Location:
    Los Osos
    My friend Natalie and I took a week-long trip out to Flagstaff, Sedona, and Santa Fe. We left as soon as the Single Speed World Championships were over, and returned hours before some friends got married. She’s from Sacramento, races for Ventana, and is an all-around ripper. I live in the Santa Cruz mountains, and ride for the hottest sauce on the net, bicycleweed.com. Read all about our trip!

    **Video coming soon, see the trailer @ http://vimeo.com/1682080 **


    “That’s the creepiest tree in the world.” The dusty desert floor surrounded the twisted grey skeleton of a tree. A sea of creosote pilings supported an ancient bridge just behind said tree. It seemed like such an ideal place to camp, out of sight and out of mind, with possibility of shade, and close to the highway.

    “Who knows what’s under that bridge,” she whispered behind a nervous glance.

    “This is totally Blair Witch,” I heard her say as I began to turn the truck around.

    The creepy tree in question.


    Abandoning what had at first appeared an ideal spot, we swiftly headed eastward on old Route 66. Following in the footsteps of many road trippers from days past, we crept up a random, mostly unmarked sandy road. We were in the middle of the Mojave desert at 1:30 in the morning, with only the sounds of the burgeoning freight trains to keep us company.

    Crossing California on 99 South.



    Take only pictures, leave only footprints.


    Me, just after sunrise.


    “What are those lights?” Natalie jerked me awake from my sweaty slumber on the desert floor. A cacophony of lights, bright as the trains zooming westward, covered a frighteningly large portion of the desolate mountains surrounding our little campsite. With mystery still a foot, I managed to get back to sleep. Natalie wasn’t so lucky.

    The black mountain in the distance...


    Crossing a rolling crest on I-40, a charcoal-black mountain suddenly came into view. Right as we saw lightning in the distance, we were almost knocked out of our lane by a tremendous crack of thunder, far too loud to let us rest easy.

    “Yeah… It’s monsoon season,” I tried to explain to Natalie. She already knew, and I knew that. It was all I could think of to comfort her before our second night of camping on our week-long trip. After such a fitful night in the desert, we were booth looking forward to a rejuvenating night, free of creepy trees, unexplainable lights, and, of course, thunder and lightning...
     
    #1 -   Sep 12, 2008
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008

    Please register to disable this ad.

  2. Heidi

    Heidi Der hund ist laut und braun

    Rep/Likes:
    25 / 428
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2001
    Messages:
    10,006
    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    YAY, I love adventures...more!
     
  3. bikenweed

    bikenweed Turbo Monkey

    Rep/Likes:
    0 / 0
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    Messages:
    2,435
    Location:
    Los Osos
    Flagstaff scenery, greenery, and colors.






    “Blar blah blad Satan, blar rar blah, ready to die.”

    What the fvck?

    We had noticed the old woman the instant she pulled into our perfect campsite. Nestled on a pine-covered ridge, only minutes from downtown Flagstaff, the clearing would receive warm morning light and provide the ultimate home base for a full-fledged exploration of the town and its adjacent trails. The old woman pulled into “our” clearing, parked awkwardly close to us, and produced some considerably odd behavior. As we laid in our perfectly dry tent, with our perfectly comfortable sleeping arrangements, we clutched tightly to a small red can of pepper spray, hoping with all our hearts we would never have to douse this psychotic gentlewoman with a dose of self defense.

    Camping, bikes, and adventure. Can it get any better?




    “Is this as tough as that last part?” I asked with a smile.

    “Not quite,” Ken replied, sounding suspiciously optimistic. The trail wasn’t on the map, and it led up a small creek on the piney mountain. Traction was zilch, Natalie and I were exhausted, and it was cold out.

    “Want a jacket?” I continuously asked Natalie, wondering just how anyone could be comfortable in the 40° weather sans long sleeved clothing.

    I have a love/hate relationship with rear tires. I’ll find one, toss it on, and either ride for months without any flats, or get a flat almost every ride. On the smooth trails of Flagstaff, the flat gremlins weren’t feeling any warmth in their hearts, and I was cursed with two rear flats. On the other end of my tired and worn steed, the new front tire I had just installed was proving less than ideal. Identical to the tires that I’ve ridden and loved for the last several years, these should have been great. Sadly, although they’re supposedly “new and improved,” the only difference is the removal of the side knobs.

    Suddenly the grippiest tire around is the sketchiest tire around. Any corner faster than 10 mph and my front wheel would drift at least twice as far as the rear. All attempts to ride “French Style” (hanging off the ass-end of the bike and riding to maintain traction 100% of the time, and never drifting) didn’t even prove to be successful. After a crash in a mellow berm, it was obvious this ride just wasn’t for us. After a non-threatening nap, sans the neighborhood psychosis patients, we cut our losses and blazed onwards to Sedona.

    Every morning began with two pots of French-pressed delight.




    Sedona is Flagstaff’s example of reciprocity. Rather than mellow, pine-covered hills, a sea of red rocks surrounds a town that appears 110% built by and for tourism. The red-crested hills with their generous dashing of green scrub, lies less than an hour from Flag, but is a solid shift of mentality. Rock formations of all kinds imaginable, from peaky and sharp jumbles to overhanging ledges to large pinnacles, form much of the memorable landscape.

    “That one was awesome!” gasped Natalie, “beautiful, and it was windy, it almost didn’t look like a trail, like the terrain wasn’t natural, man made almost.”

    There were a lot of cool little critters around Sedona. Here's a few of our favorites:




     
  4. bikenweed

    bikenweed Turbo Monkey

    Rep/Likes:
    0 / 0
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    Messages:
    2,435
    Location:
    Los Osos
    We both really enjoyed Cathedral Rock, and thanks to Steve at Absolute Bikes in Sedona, we had excellent directions. As we cruised urgently back to the car at dusk, we noticed impending black clouds closing in over the orange and yellow sun. Despite hunger and exhaustion, we packed up in the car and set out to find the BLM land upon which we were hoping to camp. After an hour of unsuccessful searching, and nearly out of gas, we returned to town for fuel and directions. Tired and hungry, we decided to give the Oak Creek campground a chance. We still hadn’t paid a dime for a single campsite, but the Oak Creek area was great. The blonde, drunken Texan, Bridget, who was in charge of the campground, was very nice, and welcomed us to the area.

    The creek next to camp was a great place to clean off.


    Natalie's "new favorite thing" took some pretty cool shots.






    “I’ve found a new favorite thing!” yelled an excited Natalie. My trip companion had used some orange packaging from the chicken flavor TopRamen as a filter on her camera’s flash. The resulting photo had a Holloweenish appearance, with a warm orange glow emanating throughout the foreground.

    Rising early to a beautiful morning, we found a perfect swimming hole in order to bathe and wash. We decided to ride a “must do” Sedona classic, Submarine Rock. Following Cosmic Ray’s directions, we found the trailhead and got on the trail.

    “That guy was a dick,” explained a bummed Natalie. A local Sedona company takes Amr’cans out in pink Jeeps, all while explaining the desert scenery and how horrible mountain bikes are. The driver of one Jeep had said several very snotty things to her. After a brief detour onto the Jeep trails, I let the kids sitting in the back seat of the slow moving vehicle realize how crappy their vacation was in comparison to ours by riding a long and fast nose wheelie down a rock formation they had just driven down oh-so-slowly, then by following them for a quarter mile on the rear wheel. Jeep driver was not stoked, parents were confused, kids were psyched.

    We enjoyed both of our Sedona rides so much that we didn’t really want to leave. However, the whole purpose of the trip was to explore Santa Fe and discover for ourselves if the promised land of extensive two-wheeled action I have always imagined lies just outside of Albuquerque.







    While both Natalie and I race mountain bikes competitively, I have had many more injuries, and have had quite a few friends get badly hurt. The last time, and only time, I had ever been to New Mexico was for the 2006 Collegiate National Championships. I was very excited to race, and the rest of our team was really strong.

    On Friday, during 4x practice, fellow teammate Ryan Helmuth was riding down the first straight when suddenly and unexplainably his front tire sank into a hole of soft dirt, auguring him headfirst into the takeoff of a large jump. The impact literally bent him in half, and he annihilated several vertebrae. He was quickly backboarded to Taos, then eventually to Albuquerque.

    This pretty much sums up my luck in New Mexico.


    The entire team visited him both Friday and Saturday nights. Come the big day, Sunday morning, the racecourse was frozen over solid, and we weren’t allowed any practice. In my race run, I hit a patch of ice, and slid sideways into a rock garden, getting thrown off the bike and down the trail into a large boulder. My hip took most of the impact, and when I couldn’t stand up, I thought I simply had a dead leg.

    Half an hour on the hillside later, I still couldn’t stand or use my leg, and had to get a ride out in an ambulance. Leaving Angle Fire on crutches, we visited Ryan one last time at the hospital. His parents had arrived, and were doing their very best to help Ryan through a tough time. After an all-night drive to San Luis Obispo, I skipped my first class in order to get x-rayed. Turns out I had a shattered pelvis. Just the Iliac crest, but a fist-sized portion was demolished. Needles to say, I don’t have very fond memories of New Mexico.

    Typical Santa Fe Architecture.






    “Would you guys like to stay here?” Lance asked me. We had been planning on camping at Hyde Park, but it was impossible to turn down his offer, especially since it would be at least 11pm when we arrived in Santa Fe. We found Lance and Evelyn’s house easily, and promptly set our alarm clocks for 6:30am.
     
  5. bikenweed

    bikenweed Turbo Monkey

    Rep/Likes:
    0 / 0
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    Messages:
    2,435
    Location:
    Los Osos
    The narrow streets, adobe buildings, and desperate Indians selling their souls away on the sidewalks all pointed towards a time long since passed. In Santa Fe, one gets a feeling of nostalgia. With the dark green mountains hovering around town and the crystalline views through the thin air, Santa Fe seems like a different word compared to the Santa Cruz mountains or the San Luis Obispo valley.

    After a breakfast at the best Mexican eatery in town, as per Lance Gordon’s judgment, which is not to be challenged, we stopped by the old hotel downtown where Lance and Evelyn stayed in their first Santa Fe visit some 17 years ago. The sprawling hotel took up the second story and heart of an entire downtown block, but integrated normal shops and businesses into the building’s street level floor.

    These glasses are awesome.


    Get your hand off the ass' ass!


    “Hello, how are you doing today?,” asked Nick, the friendly employee at MeloVelo, my favorite bike shop ever.

    “Are we in trouble or something?” Natalie whispered to me behind our darkly tinted sunglasses.

    “I’m just coming out to greet you,” Nick added, obviously surprised by our awkward and sudden worry.

    While we thought we were in trouble, the Santa Fe attitude is so hospitable and accommodating we were actually taken by surprise. It’s so easy to forget that, compared to most other places, us big city Californians are uptight jackasses. Not as bad as east coast snobs, but still, we are far more stuck up and “busy” than just about everyone else everywhere else.

    Dale's Balls, the nearest singletrack to town.








    The Dale Ball trail network, only a few miles from downtown Santa Fe, was high on our agenda. In the event that I do actually move to Santa Fe, it makes sense, at least to me, to test out the trails that I would be riding most frequently. I’ve been driving to trailheads a lot lately, and I’m quite sick of it. Pedaling is so much more appealing!

    “These trails are ok…” I mentioned to Natalie.

    “Yeah, but it’s almost like they’re designed for beginners only,” she said. “I wasn’t feeling so capable back in Sedona, but this is too easy.”

    “Yeah, I feel like I’m gonna get a facefull of tree on one of these corners. And we still haven’t climbed or gone down or anything,” I vented.

    After riding trails 1 through 25, covering a substantial amount of distance, we were a bit let down. Natalie spotted and shot and interesting bird at the trailhead, and we bounced down into town for margaritas and to see the town for ourselves. Walking down a tiny, picturesque street, someone told us, “you can be in the movie, just don’t look at the camera.” We both instantly turned our heads towards the camera. Awesome! Film bombing!

    A delicious paella dinner with Lance and Evelyn filling our bellies, we set off for the 6 hour drive back to Flagstaff. The Homolovi ruins would make for an easy campsite, but we were running low on cash. 20 minutes of digging for change and bills yielded about $12.

    “The envelope is so full, the slot was so small, it tore open and now their collection box is full of our money!” explained Natalie.

    “High five!”

    We awoke to the worst campsite of the trip, with the freeway sounds filling our ears and ants crawling throughout our sleeping bags. Another egg bagel breakfast down the hatch, fresh French pressed coffee in our hands, we headed out for the long haul. Punctuated with an unfulfilling visit to DairyQueen in Ludlow, California, we paused briefly in the Mojave for a photo shoot starring one very attractive Joshua tree.

    It's hard not to feel awkward sitting at the base of a Joshua tree.




    We made it home around 1:30am Saturday. With Scott and Julia’s wedding only 13 hours away, we were both relieved to be back, and anxious to set off on another journey. Both of us learned a lot, not only about the places we visited, but about one another as well. The mere fact that Natalie and I are still friends is a testament to how much we learned. Trips like this, with their unplanned little sidebars, escapades, and camping spots make traveling an adrenaline inducing experience on its own. Here’s to the next trip!
     
  6. Colonel Angus

    Colonel Angus Monkey

    Rep/Likes:
    6 / 14
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Messages:
    568
    Location:
    land of the green chiles
    That had to be one of the top 3 ride reports I've ever read! You write pretty well for a weed fiend.

    I must say, however, that you missed the goods in Santa Fe. Nick at Mello Velo gave you a bum steer if the Dale Ball trails was all he recommended. There are miles and miles of singletrack within 20 minutes of downtown, everything from buff easy stuff to expert-level technical stuff.
     
  7. hooples3

    hooples3 Fuggetaboutit!

    Rep/Likes:
    5 / 0
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Messages:
    5,247
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Loved the pics and the write-up.. Thanks for sharing
     
  8. bikenweed

    bikenweed Turbo Monkey

    Rep/Likes:
    0 / 0
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2004
    Messages:
    2,435
    Location:
    Los Osos
    Thanks! Just to clarify, my last name is actually Weed, but I don't smoke the drugs.

    I didn't want to ride the good stuff if it was going to be that far out. I wanted to ride the closest possible trails to town, and it seemed like that was gonna be the Dale Ball network. In the last few years in San Luis Obispo, we ended up riding the stuff that was in town much more than the trails outside of town. It seemed pertinent to explore the trails that would be the closest, and we 100% realized that we would be missing out on all kinds of other good riding. The future is what you make it, and my future has a return trip to Santa Fe in it, with plans to ride every inch of singletrack that's worth a pedal.
     
    #8 -   Oct 1, 2008
  9. DirtyDog

    DirtyDog Gang probed by the Golden Banana

    Rep/Likes:
    0 / 0
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Messages:
    6,600
    Wow, good times! good times....
     
    #9 -   Oct 1, 2008
  10. Colonel Angus

    Colonel Angus Monkey

    Rep/Likes:
    6 / 14
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2005
    Messages:
    568
    Location:
    land of the green chiles
    FWIW, I lived in San Luis Obispo for 9 years, although I was only a roadie back then. It was a sweet small town in those days.