Monday, June 29, 2009

Coconino Loop

After the Grand Loop race in late May, Scott and I began to talk about making our own loop with as much singletrack as possible, fun singletrack. The fewer dirt roads the better. My theory is that a dirt road should only be used as a connector, not as an entire race. The double track during the Grand Loop was incredibly steep and often unrideable. We chatted about some routes on the way home from the Grand Junction, northern Arizona was the likely candidate.

We got the base loop down that I posted last week and from there we went out on a mission to ride it. I was very familiar with the first part of the route as it was basically two of the Arizona Endurance Series races spliced and combined (CDC and SBFL).

Scott, Lee and I started on the Flagstaff Urban Loop and made our way to the Arizona Trail. The trail to Mormon Lake seemed to be in the best shape that I have ever seen, plenty of scenery



Photos courtesy of Scott/Scott's camera



Near Mormon Lake we filled up some water courtesy of the Knights of Columbus camp and continued on forest roads toward Sedona.


Camping on Hot Loop Trail gave us some spectacular evening and morning views.





The next morning, we woke up and headed to Circle K for a mandatory refuel stop. Loading up our bladders with ice seemed appropriate given the 94 degree high that was predicted. We bathed in Red Rock Crossing and headed toward the Lime Klin Trail.



Unknown to any of us, a local named Billy gave us some beta about the singletrack/doubletrack, old wagon route.



The trail was great, especially toward the end near Dead Horse State Park.

After a quick refueling at Hog Wild and Maverick, we slowly began the climb up Mingus Mountain, toward Trail 106.



It was hot enough that Lee rode up helmet-less



Some pretty steep forest roads insued



Views of Cottonwood, Verde Valley, Kachina Peaks, and Sedona were at every turn.

Riding up Trail 106 seemed perfect for the first mile or so, then it quickly shifted to a hike-a-bike. Towards the middle of the trail, we are able to ride some sections, but for the most part, the trail was pretty unfuntastic. We are looking at different options to not use this route for the loop, namely Black Canyon.



We got to the top of Mingus this second day and had another amazing camping spot, as you can see in Scott's picture from the next morning.



We woke up the next morning in search of water, until we realized there was a ranger station at the bottom of Yaeger Canyon. We descended down the wonderful trail #28. Simply stunning views of Prescott and some great, technical singletrack.



We got down to the "ranger station" to find just a old, empty road. Bummer. We continued to ride along, dropping down to the hotter, lower Prescott Valley area. We managed to find some water in a stock tank. Not the best looking water, but it worked for emergency uses.



We got some water at the Verde River and headed up the road to one of my favorite sections of the route, Bill Williams. This is the part of the ride that Lee found his wings again; he left Scot and I behind as he powered up the very scenic road.

The singletrack is almost all rideable on the way up, and on the way down, well, let's just say I was surprised.



The rain started approaching while we were getting to the top of the mountain. Riding into town to get a hotel seemed like the best approach. The first few hotels were booked, but finally we managed to find one that was in our budget that had a vacancy. We ordered 3 medium pizzas and headed to bed early.

The next morning, the sun came out as we pulled out of the parking lot. Good times. It was nice to sleep on a bed, but the top of the mountain would have been nice also. Imagine sleeping on all three high points of the race, oh well.

We headed on some dirt roads



to some more singletrack, Sycamore Rim Trail. Very good stuff.



if the technical singletrack does not inspire you, then the views will certainly...



After the Rim Trail, we headed back to Flagstaff with another storm approaching. We got a little wet, but it was the perfect ending to one of the best loops I have ever ridden.



Thanks Scott and Lee, and Scott for the pictures and letting me borrow the camera from time to time. As usual, it is not so much about the route as the people you ride with, both Lee and Scott are some of the best riders around, and they invoke some pretty interesting conversation.



The entire route in 3D courtesy of Topofusion


and the aerial view of the new route that we have, more stuff has been added and it is now a race





Final stats from the route per Scott's track: 216 miles, 24,000′ elevation gain

The new race is slated for October 9, 2009. There is a 250-mile and 350-mile option, 32k and 38k of climbing respectively.

The official thread is on bikepacking.net
The race site is on Arizona Endurance Series

Thanks to Dave C, Billy B, Mike H, Troy M, Nathan F, the guys at Pay n Take/Pines to Mines crew for making this route possible. While the idea to make this route started from our conversation, these guys helped develop/inspired the route.

8 comments:

Billy Befoot said...

Breathtaking Chad, Glad you guys had a great trip thanks for the inspiration!

Cheers

chollaball said...

Bill Williams followed by Sycamore Rim are 2 burly rides. Just doing those in one day would hurt me. Amazing set of adventures you've been having!!

ScottM said...

Always a pleasure, Chad. Looking forward to the next one, and to the race...

Enel said...

Looks fun, and I could leave from my door. Excuses on my part are lame at this point.

Thanks for scouting this out.

tuleru said...

Ahh, Sii! Very good ride, look forward to many more,
Lee

PirateGirl said...

Beautiful pics and views! Stunning!

Tomcat and Auberry Swirl said...

My husband and I are new to this sport. Pictures like these inspire me to delve deeper into it! Thanks for sharing.

Northstar Bikes said...

great shots!

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